Panera Bread Opens Third 'Fair Share' Café

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In the current tough financial times, it's not surprising that some people wonder if they will be able to afford their next meal. But if you happen to live in Portland, Ore., that may be one less thing you have to worry about now.

The newest addition to the Panera Bread family of restaurants doesn't look any different than any one of the company's 1,400 restaurants across the country.

However, there's at least one glaring difference -- no prices are listed on the menu.

Does it mean your meals are free? Not quite. Instead, customers are encouraged to pay what they think is their fair share.

"There are a lot of folks out there who question whether this could ever work. In many ways, this is a test of humanity," said Ron Shaich, the company's founder.

The new restaurant idea is a part of company's effort to give back. The first Panera Cares Cafe opened in May 2010 in St. Louis, Mo. Another opened in Dearborn, Mich., in November. Despite some business critics predicting their failure, the company opened its third cafe this week in Portland.

While some customers give less than the suggested donation, most pay what's recommended for their meals or even more.

"Knowing that you can help somebody else and give them a meal possibly. For myself, anyway, I paid a little extra," Darren Buckman said.

Those who can't afford to pay for their meals are asked to volunteer their time doing some work around store.

Shaich said it's not a handout, but a hand up to help those who need it

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