Saturday, June 26, 2010

There is No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

     There is no such thing as a free lunch.  That's what the title says.  And that's an old saying that goes like that.  But is that true?  Sometimes there is free lunch like if someone invites you over to a picnic.  Or maybe you win free lunch by putting your business card in a jar at some friendly local eatery.  Perhaps you have won a radio contest in which the prize was a free lunch.  In those cases there is a free lunch, but those are exceptions to the rule.  We like to call them extraordinary situations.  But there is no need to worry because now there is free lunch for everyone.  Sort of.  Oh, and you have to live in Clayton, MO, outside of St. Louis.
     Panara, the bread and baking company, has opened a non-profit pay-what-you-wish restaurant in this St. Louis suburb.  The idea is simple.  It has the normal menu, but when you go to the register the nice young man or woman just tells you the suggested price.  Then you pay what you want.  The results have been astounding.
     Turns out that roughly 70% of the people pay fill price.  About 15% of the people pay a little more, and about 15% pay a little less.  There aren't a lot who are taking their free lunch.  That's amazing.  The restaurant has cleared about $100,000 in its first month, and in a couple of months hopes to have paid off its start up costs.  After that's done, 100% of the profits will go to area charitable organizations.
     The idea is so successful that Panara is actually opening more stores with the same idea, under the various logos of the restaurants it owns.  I don't have much to say about this other than it's really cool, and it is heartening to know that maybe, just maybe, there is some hope and decency to our society yet.  So get your eat on, and you'd better pay something reasonable.

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