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Panera Cares reports strong week

Boston-01/23/13- Panera Cares Community Cafe opens in Center Plaza, with a pay-as-you-can approach. Globe staff photo by John Tlumacki (business)

John Tlumacki / Globe Staff

The Panera Cares Community Cafe opened in Center Plaza on Thursday with a pay-as-you-can approach.

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 chain. But unlike the company’s traditional stores, Panera Cares does not have set prices. Instead, it operates on donations from customers.

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

Alyssa Edes can be reached at alyssa.edes@globe.com

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