The Panera Bread Foundation opened its second non-profit community café—called Panera Cares—in Dearborn, Michigan, and shared plans to open a third in Portland, Oregon, in early 2011. This expansion is the result of the concept's success in Clayton, Missouri, where the first non-profit community café—called Saint Louis Bread Co. Cares—opened in May.
Panera Cares is a new kind of café, one that exemplifies an entirely different way of giving back. It is a community cafe of shared responsibility. One of the goals of this charitable program is to ensure that everyone who needs a meal gets one. People are encouraged to take what they need and donate their fair share. There are no prices or cash registers, only suggested donation levels and donation bins.
"The vision for the Panera Cares Cafe was to use Panera's unique restaurant skills to address real societal needs and make a direct impact in communities," says Ron Shaich, Panera Bread's cofounder and executive chairman, and president of the Panera Bread Foundation. "Thus, the Foundation developed these community cafes to make a difference by addressing the food insecurity issues that affect millions of Americans."
"At the end of the day," Shaich says, "this community cafe isn't about offering a hand out. It's about offering a hand up to those who need it."
Dearborn, a Detroit suburb, was selected as the location of the second Panera Cares Cafe based on a diverse population of individuals who can sustain the cafe as well as individuals who may need a hand up.
"Given the economic challenges in the Greater Detroit area, opening a Panera Cares Cafe in this area was a natural choice," Shaich says. "These cafes exist to make a difference by offering the Panera experience with dignity to all—those who can afford it, those who need a hand up, and everyone in between. We anticipate that Panera Cares will have a tremendous impact on the Dearborn community."
A third Panera Cares Cafe is expected to open in Greater Portland in January 2011. Like other Panera Cares Cafe locations, the Hollywood-area cafe is easily accessible via public transportation and attracts an eclectic mix of customers, exuding a genuine neighborhood vibe.