Panera made headlines in 2010 when it opened a series of pay-as-you-go Panera Cares cafes–versions of the popular cafes that ask patrons to leave donations of what they can afford instead of fixed amounts. The cafes have been a success, and Panera is building more. But Panera isn’t the only place trying out the model. Karma Kitchen, a restaurant in Berkeley, California, is operating on a similar model. A new video, created by the Global Oneness Project, shows how their seemingly backwards business model works.
Karma Kitchen opened in 2007–and not only does it ask for donations, it also is completely volunteer-run. The model is working well so far, so well that, despite charging nothing, the company is able to donate extra money. Karma says on its website: “At this time, Karma Kitchen is able to sustain itself through guest contributions; any surplus that is received goes towards supporting an array of gift-economy/generosity projects that work towards a common good. Many of the special items you see on the Kindness Table are made available through these projects.”
The restaurant gets great Yelp reviews, too. Recent reviewers say that “the naan is hands down the best I’ve had in the bay area,” and that it’s “ALL DELICIOUS!” The catch: Karma Kitchen is only open on Sundays.