CEO Clive Schlee of global restaurant Pret a Manger reported an overwhelming positive response to the chain’s recently opened (and only) vegetarian pop-up location. The pop-up opened in London’s Soho neighborhood on June 1 to test market interest in a meat-free eatery. “We predicted our Veggie Pret shop would see sales drop by up to 30 percent, and the project was expected to be an investment,” Schlee said. However, within its first two weeks of operation, the eatery was turning 70 percent profits. Surprised, Schlee said, “The shop is packed, and this is the first time I have seen customers in London sitting on the floor to eat their lunch.” Among the eight top sellers at the vegetarian restaurant are a vegan Cacao & Orange Pot and a chocolate-coconut bar, which Schlee noted are selling five times faster than desserts at the other 399 non-vegetarian Pret A Manger restaurants. In addition to the positive reactions, Schlee said that “a meat-free environment seems to generate an infectious positive energy.” Schlee initially planned to keep the restaurant open for one month but given the positive feedback has decided to continue the business to further assess demand, revealing that his team is interested in converting other restaurants into “Veggie Prets” in addition to exploring markets outside of London.
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