Panera Cares In Chicago Accused Of Bringing Down Affluent Neighborhood

10/04/2012 11:11 am ET | Updated Oct 04, 2012
  • Harry Bradford Associate Editor, HuffPost Business and HuffPost Small Business

There’s trouble in Panera paradise.

The food chain, known for its bread and sandwiches, faces growing safety concerns at its Panera Cares pay-what-you-can location in Chicago's affluent Lakeview neighborhood, CBS Chicago reports. The location, which allows customers to pay as much as they choose, was opened in June after the success of another Panera Cares in Missouri.

With the economy weak and many Americans struggling to put food on the table, the pay-what-you-can model has enjoyed some success lately, and a recent study found people aren't prone to take advantage of the model either. It's worked out well enough for rockstar Jon Bon Jovi, who last October opened his own restaurant in New Jersey, where patrons can choose the amount they’d like to contribute, or even pay their share by volunteering to help various community projects.

This time, things apparently aren't working out so well. Lakeview residents are complaining that the area around the Panera location has become a bit rougher since the restaurant opened up shop, according to CBS Chicago.

“It’s just kind of scary,” Lakeview resident Sally Figliulo told the station. “A crowd of guys won’t let you through a sidewalk. That’s invasive.”

Even though neighboring businesses have put in place additional security measures, not everyone is concerned. Longtime resident Bruce Beal says that the only real concern residents have is that property values will fall, CBS Chicago reports.

Of course, it’s not just food that can come with a variable price tag. An Ohio barber made headlines last year when he started offering pay-what-you can cuts to patrons.

(Hat tip: The Consumerist)

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