Customers in a generous mood on opening day for Panera Cares restaurant

Panera Cares, the new pay-what-you-can cafe near Government Center, had a strong opening Wednesday, pulling in 109 percent of the retail value of the food it sold, according to the company.

The restaurant at 3 Center Plaza, is a nonprofit owned by Panera Bread, the national sandwich and bakery chain. But unlike the company’s traditional stores, Panera Cares does not have set prices. Instead, it operates on donations from customers.

Kate Antonacci, Panera Cares project manager, said the Boston opening was the organization’s best yet. There are five Panera Cares cafes nationwide.

“It’s normal to see very high contributions in the first few weeks and we expect that number to fall off a bit as our newness wears off,’’ Antonacci said. “But it is a good sign and is very inspiring for our team to see such generosity on opening day.’’


The restaurant recorded nearly 700 transactions Wednesday. Revenue above operating costs will be used to develop additional community programs, Panera officials said

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