January 17th, 2011 | by NIKKI VOLPICELLI Food & Drink |

FREE DOUGH: No Pay Panera Cares Cafe Opens in Hollywood

     
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panera bread

Since this morning, you don't have to pay a dime for bread, sandwiches and salads at the Hollywood neighborhood outpost of national chain Panera Bread. You pay what you want if you want to pay. The Panera Cares Café, the third bakery of its kind that Panera has opened across the nation, runs off diner's donations. According to spokesperson Kate Antonacci, who was on hand for the café's grand re-opening today, aside from upkeep, materials and employee wages any additional revenue will go towards a Portland non-profit—they're still choosing which one.

The idea behind the ‘pay-what-you-choose' cafe is that people are "good." (I just feel guilty. I pay more than the suggested price for a Mediterranean veggie sandwich, $7.50, and find a seat staring at artwork left over from Panera's corporate days.) Outside, a young man in tattered clothing holds a cardboard sign begging for food and money.

"It's perfect because [there are] organizations [that are] so much in need and they're needed,” says longtime customer Barbara Wise, 89. She's right, the proof is outside holding a sign and looking hungry.

GO PAY...OR NOT: Panera Bread, 4121 NE Halsey St., 287-5900, panerabread.com.

Excellent off-the-cuff food photography by Nikki Volpicelli.
 
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