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Pret a Manger Adds Dinner to Its Lockdown Office Cosplay Kit

Focaccia pizzas and a Christmas-inspired mac and cheese plumb the depths untraversed by its retail coffee bags

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A Pret a Manger dinner spread, including a salmon rice bowl, a chipotle chicken rice bowl, and some obligatory avocado, laid out with candles
Close your eyes and pretend it’s a desk
Pret a Manger [Official Photo]

Pret a Manger really, really wants to come to your house

Pret a Manger has added dinner to its lockdown office cosplay kit by rolling out “Dinners by Pret”, whose trial it announced this summer. The fast-casual menu keeps it classic by playing fast and loose with international cultures’ food, pairing a Thai red curry sauce with Chinese hoisin aubergine. It has also introduced an item called “Lasagne Mac and Cheese,” which under closer inspection is lasagna, just with rigatoni instead of lasagne, the pasta sheets. There are also focaccia “pizzas,” which is focaccia, with tomato and cheese on top. Italians mad at food, assemblare?

The dinner roll-out, which is available for delivery from 30 London stores, is the latest piece in a puzzle best described as an office culture cosplay kit. Pret just launched bags of its retail coffee into Waitrose, with a visual campaign focussed on quasi-pastoral slow filter brewing; everything Pret is not. It previously launched its more faithful, constipation-defying coffee subscription in which diehard filter coffee fans could get 155 cups for £20 per month in store. But that was at the heart of the summer “get back to the officedeath drive, pushed out by the government and its faithful newspapers, in which treating the daily flat white like a rail season ticket makes complete, if confounding, sense.

Retail coffee beans and this new dinner service make less sense, because they are predicated on the fact that people just absolutely [expletive] love Pret. People do absolutely [expletive] love Pret, but as a segment of Another Day at the Office, Chums, in which a 99p filter costs 99p and might be free from a random, and yet, not random, act of kindness; in which the crayfish and avocado with no bread is a personality type; in which everyone has their local Pret even though, once again, every Pret is choreographed to be near identical. Bringing its maroon-monogrammed napkins and cheerily copy-written coffee blends into the home might be exactly what it now needs to survive, especially if lockdowns continue, but, being real: Whomst among Londoners is going to order “pigs and blankets mac and cheese” for a Pret-sponsored night in with the Filofax?

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