You’ve eaten the sausage roll and possibly bought the Primark T-shirt but now the formerly no-frills baker Greggs has upped the ante with its guerrilla marketing this Christmas by debuting a “fine dining” offering.
Bistro Greggs is marketing itself as a high-end restaurant where steak bakes will be served under silver cloches and you can sip £9.50 cocktails inspired by jam doughnuts.
The “Parisian-inspired” pop-up within the Newcastle branch of Fenwick’s department store will serve an à la carte menu of “enhanced interpretations” of the high street bakery chain’s savoury bakes and sweet treats when it opens it doors on Friday.
The stunt will put the famous store on the map with Greggs superfans during the busiest shopping weeks of the year, in the chain’s home city, where it has become almost a religion.
You might be able to pick up a festive bake on just about any UK high street for just under £2 but what about one that has been “reimagined”? Fenwick’s executive head chef, Mark Reid, said that while a trip to one of its regular shops was an “everyday treat”, the goal of the bistro was to “elevate” that to “verging on the decadent”.
“Our main inspiration for the menu was taking the recognisable, classic Greggs products and reimagining them,” said Reid. Working to that brief, his chefs have turned the Greggs caramel shortbread slices into an Eton mess pudding and transformed beef wellington with, well, a steak bake, albeit served with truffled dauphinoise potatoes and green beans in a £9.50 dish.
While the unique menu might throw off even the most skilled sommelier, have no fear if you are thinking of booking for a Christmas outing. The restaurant operations manager, Amy Byers, confirmed it had “curated a classic wine list chosen to complement the elevated dining experience”.
It is also proud of its “pink jammie fizz” – a Prosecco-based cocktail inspired by Greggs’ jam doughnuts.
With its white-clothed tables and velvet banquettes, the company says it drew inspiration from the “traditional bistros of Saint-Germain” in the French capital. The final flourish is a colour palette, it adds, that includes the “instantlyrecognisable blue” of Greggs.
Once a traditional no-frills bakery outlet, Greggs has reinvented itself as a food-to-go chain, selling salads and soups as well as traditional pastry products and treats. Its reappraisal has been aided by canny marketing, from unexpected tie-ups such as its successful Primark clothing range to its cult social media feed where followers enjoy a lively diet of quirky news that marries popular culture with pasties. One popular hit turned the golden fur cape Rihanna wore to the Met Gala into a steak bake.
The pop-up comes at a time when Greggs is extending its hot food menu to push trade into the evening, when burger chains and convenience stores cash in on office workers heading home or out for the night.
Hannah Squirrell, its customer director, hailed the experiment as a “watershed moment”.