Feel Good Story Of The Week

The City Cafe Bakery in Kitchener, Ontario does things surprisingly different. Here is the story from a trade magazine called Baker’s Journal:

“City Cafe doesn’t have Interac or accept credit cards. Neither will you see a cash register in the bakery. Instead, customers add up how much they owe themselves and drop their money into a fare box from an old bus.

‘I liked the idea of simplifying things and…the honour system made a whole lot of sense,’ Bergen says. ‘What irritated me about going into Tim Hortons, for example, was waiting in line for something as simple as getting a donut and a coffee. So the thought was, someone can pour his own coffee, grab his own bagel, cut it himself, throw the money in, and walk out. We don’t touch 60 per cent of the transaction.’

Because it is up to the customers to total their purchases, Bergen has simplified the cost structure. ‘Everything is rounded off to the nearest quarter with taxes included where applicable,’ he says. ‘So every desert is $1.50 (tarts, brownies, and date squares), every pizza lunch is $5, every beverage is $1.25, every loaf of bread is $2.75 (Italian sourdough, multi-grain, and raisin bread on weekends), croissants are $1 each, and bagels are three for $2 (plain, sesame, and multi-grain).’

The bakery conducts audits every six months and Bergen says only once did things come up short.

‘Our theory is that two per cent of our sales are being ripped off. ‘Ripped off’ in the sense that there are people who forget to pay or they make a mistake in paying, and then there are people who deliberately don’t pay. And every so often we have to kick somebody out that we know hasn’t been paying,’ he says. ‘But at the same time we figure we’re being overpaid by three per cent. Some people come in and want a $2.75 loaf of bread, but they see we’re busy so they throw $3 in and walk out. Or, although we discourage tips, some people still give them to us. But because the staff is paid well (the average wage is $15.50 an hour), the tips go into the general pot.’

The staff will make change if a customer needs it, but Bergen says they will ask the customer how much they want back because they don’t want to have to do the math.”

How does something like this work in a world as screwed up as ours? I think that the theological explanation is common grace, which Nathan discussed here and here.

Because human beings are created in the image of God, they have the capacity to function in a civilized society. Whenever we see examples of people respecting each other and working well together, it gives us the opportunity to praise God for his goodness toward undeserving sinners. And it also gives us as Christians an opportunity to applaud the “good” in the world instead of always pointing out the bad.

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