In April of this year when Pret a Manger on The Strand introduced Good Evenings it went against the definition of their name. No longer ready to eat but instead a more formal dining experience. As soon as we spotted Prosecco on the menu Jasmin and I didn’t need another reason to try it out.
A friendly Maitre D’ greeted us at the door and explained the process, seated us with menus and once decided we order and pay at the till. Although the pre-prepared sandwiches and juices are still visible in the fridges for customers wanting to pop in, this is not a distraction from the dining experience. Low level lighting, candles and pre-set tables create an evening ambience.
The menu had a mix of sandwiches served with side salad transforming them into a more substantial meal alongside heartier dishes such as mac and cheese and BBQ pulled pork. Three white, three red wines, three bottled beers and a prosecco choice made up the alcoholic options. Prosecco is only available by the bottle, slightly inconvenient and losing out on potential sales for solo customers; we reluctantly forced ourselves through a bottle, in the spirit of research of course.
The tasty food is cooked to order, fresh, ready quickly and served by friendly, willing staff. We enjoyed the relaxed dining experience, especially as it was mid week.
Evenings at Pret a Manger is a great idea, maximising the pay back on daily overheads by opening longer hours and attracting a mixture of clientele. There is still the convenience factor for anyone in a rush, it guarantees theatre goers a quick dinner or friends a relaxed evening social. Paying when ordering also removes any worry for customers who are on a timetable for the theatre or cinema which can spoil a meal.
Further roll out of Good Evenings could benefit locations with fewer restaurants, but the sheer volumes of all types of footfall London has to offer promise a large pool of potential customers.
The Eating Out markets are merging at one end of the spectrum with Waitrose offering wine & deli bars and grazing areas and Tesco implanting Harris and Hoole and Giraffe. Pret a Manger is throwing itself into the mix by filling the gap between Food To Go and Restaurants.