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Walter’s Perspective: New Panera Caters To All Income Levels

Walter Jacobson

Walter Jacobson (CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s not often in the news there’s a good story to tell, so it’s good to have one, like the story you may have heard about the Panera Café in Chicago in the Lakeview neighborhood -– charging for sandwiches no more that its customers can afford to pay.

What’s that all about? A business in one of the capitalism capitols of the world, catering to customers who can’t afford to buy a chicken sandwich priced at $6.99, a hungry person who’s out of a job and has in her pocket only $1.99 or no money?

No problem. Just pay what you can, because the next customer has hundreds in her pocket and can pay -– and will be happy to pay — $10 or $12.99.

That’s Lakeview, an unusual neighborhood of million-dollar homes and the homeless. No money for a sandwich? That’s OK.

Want to volunteer to help for an hour? That’d be nice. If not, that’s OK, too. The cafe is not-for-profit. The money it makes it donates to job-training programs for young people, whom the café then hires.

I can’t imagine a story much better than that, for everybody.