‘Pay what you can’ Panera in Clayton closes for good

Clayton’s Panera Cares Cafe, a nonprofit restaurant that asked patrons to “pay-what-you-can,” closed for good Tuesday.

St. Louis Bread Co. is part of Panera. Founder and executive chairman Ron Shaich told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the restaurant is closing because it was on a month-to-month lease and the store required a big investment.

The cafe opened in 2010 in an already-existing Panera-run restaurant blocks from the St. Louis County government buildings. The idea for the Clayton cafe was that people who could afford to pay the suggested price or more would do so, subsidizing those who could pay just a portion of the price or none at all.

Customers paid, on average, about 85 percent of the suggested price.


The company opened similar cafes in Chicago; Dearborn, Michigan; Portland, Oregon; and Boston. Only the Boston location remains open.

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