Last May, Panera Bread turned a St. Louis-area cafe into a nonprofit branch, where customers pay what they choose. A year later, the experiment is working out fine, the AP reports: Some 60% of customers pay the suggested price, while 20% pay more and 20% pay less. It’s the biggest-ever community kitchen—a trend in which businesses function in part as charities.
Two more Panera branches have already sprung up, and many more are planned. Operating at 80% of retail, the Missouri branch pulls in a few thousand dollars a month beyond costs. The extra money goes to job and “life skills” training for at-risk youths, says Panera's founder. “The lesson here is most people are fundamentally good,” he says. “People step up and they do the right thing." (Read more Panera Bread stories.)