Update: Pret's PR folks inform me the CEO blog post referred to below is most definitely up. Click here and you should find it. Apparently I'm experiencing some cross-Atlantic internet interference...
Walking around London, it sometimes feels like there's a Pret on every corner. Serving good, reasonably fresh, ready packaged foods, it's always been a good alternative to the usual fast food fair. And they've always done a pretty good job of catering to vegetarians too.
So when Pret announced that it was converting one of its Soho stores to be 100% vegetarian, I'm sure the veggie community was delighted. The only trouble was, the move was only ever intended as a one month experiment. In fact, the firm was fully expecting a 30% drop in sales as carnivores went elsewhere.
Instead, the location has seen a rise in sales. And those increased sales appear to be holding steady. So, according to Business Green (reporting on a Pret CEO blog post that has since disappeared from their site), the location is now going to become a permanent, purely vegetarian fixture. And they are planning on opening a second trial location before the year is out.
Encouragingly, according to CEO Clive Schlee, Veggie Pret isn't just appealing to hardcore vegetarians and vegans either:
"Pret's goal is to encourage meat eaters to try more veggie food by making sure it looks and tastes better. I know from experience in cooking at home that this isn't easy. Our chefs seem to be getting it right because anecdotally over 50 per cent of customers at Veggie Pret say they are regular meat eaters. Our early insights remain true - vegan dishes and sweet treats are the biggest-sellers and the Cacao & Orange Pot has sold ten times the number we'd predicted!"
As a meat eater who loves to eat veggie when out and about, I can attest that chains like this are likely to have a broad appeal way beyond the committed herbivore. I look forward to seeing more in the future. And just in case the mysterious disappearing CEO blog post raises any doubts, this looks pretty official to me...