I've always loved Panera and could probably write a sonnet about their bread bowl cheddar broccoli soup. While I'll spare you that nonsense (for now...) I would like to call attention to their awesome new Panera Cares Community Cafe store in Lakeview.
What do you mean? Asks the astute Diversey traveller. There's always been a Panera on Diversey.
True, bread lover. But this store has been rebranded into an even better Panera. How is that possible? Let me explain.
You've probably heard murmurings about this concept before and I, quite frankly, think it's fabulous. Instead of prices, the store lists "suggested donations" to help cover the cost of food and operations. If a person can afford to pay, they are encouraged to. If they're unable, they pay what they can. Patrons who would like to do something for their meal have the opportunity to volunteer in the store and those who can pay a little bit more can do so as well. The goal is to be a self-sustaining store and, according to Panera's website, they appear to be succeeding.
I will definitely be checking this store out in the coming weeks and I encourage you to do the same. If this concept does, indeed, work, it's amazing to think about the implications if all chains in our city were able to follow Panera's lead.