Panera to close last of its pay-what-you-can cafes

In this Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019 photo, customers sit in a Panera Cares restaurant in Boston. The company is closing the last of its experimental cafes that let customers pay what they wished. It says this Panera Cares location will close Friday, Feb. 14, 2019, after six years. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

After nine years, Panera to close the last of its pay-what-you-can cafes

BOSTON — Panera Bread is closing the last of its experimental cafes that let customers pay what they wished.

The company says its Panera Cares location in Boston will close Friday after six years. Panera says it's helping employees find jobs at other locations.

Panera opened its first Panera Cares restaurant in Clayton, Missouri, in 2010. It later opened similar stores in Chicago; Dearborn, Michigan; Portland, Oregon; and Boston. All eventually closed.

In a statement, Panera said the stores were no longer viable. A spokeswoman said the company wouldn't elaborate.

The locations weren't as profitable as regular Panera cafes. In 2013, the company said Panera Cares stores made 70 to 80 percent of the revenue that traditional stores did.

A Luxembourg-based investment firm, JAB Holding Co., bought Panera in 2017.

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