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Associated Press
Bread sits on a table at a Panera Bread Co. restaurant. The company said Wednesday it is pulling its latest pay-what-you-can idea after three months of testing in St. Louis, with plans to retool it and bring it back next winter.

Panera to retool latest pay-what-you-can idea

ST. LOUIS – Panera Bread’s latest pay-what-you-can experiment will be retooled and brought back next winter as a seasonal offering.

The Meal of Shared Responsibility was pulled Wednesday. Since March, Panera had offered a single menu item, Turkey Chili in a Bread Bowl, at its 48 St. Louis-area restaurants. Customers set their own price.

The idea was that the needy could get a nutritious meal for whatever they could pay; those paying above cost make up the difference.

Panera founder Ron Shaich told The Associated Press that too few needy people were participating, in part because most Panera locations are in middle-class and affluent areas. And after initial publicity and marketing, awareness dropped off.

Shaich believes a better plan is to offer the program for short periods, when in-store marketing can remain focused.

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