Advantages Cheap, filling food; nice baguettes; efficient serving staff
Disadvantages No guarantee of savouries actually being hot; may be pushing out indepedents
As the Greggs juggernaut rumbles ever onward, there must surely be fewer and fewer people who haven't experienced what is now one of Britain's largest fast food chains, with the number of their shops running well into four figures. They call themselves the country's largest specialist bakers, but really that phrase makes them sound like some old-fashioned small concern, when in fact although they consisted of a single shop in Tyneside until the 1970s, they're now a massive business that would be better compared to the takeaway divisions of the likes of McDonald's or Subway.
Let's get straight down to the main reason so many people go to Greggs: they're very cheap. Although prices have risen considerably, along with most food items, in the last few years, they remain quite a lot cheaper than their high street rivals, most of which *are* local or at least regional in nature. Most of Greggs' hot small pasties, for example, come in just under the pound mark, a state of affairs which I'm sure the company will seek to hold as long as possible. Sausage rolls are even cheaper, costing around 60p. No independent bakery is likely to be able to compete with that.Greggs bakeries sometimes have their frontage open to the elements and are usually rather small, which can mean that queues are quite long and often snake out into the street. This can be a bit of a pain when the weather is poor, though service is generally fast so you don't get wet for long! I've never encountered a branch with an eat-in option, another thing which distinguishes them from many local bakeries, though that's not to say that *none* of their shops have one. There aren't many concessions to luxury inside: a common layout is to have a counter at the back of the shop and to one side, and a fridge containing sandwiches and drinks on the other side.
There are three main ranges of food sold. Firstly, the aforementioned hot savouries. These include such things as pasties, sausage rolls and steak bakes - though irritatingly my local branch at least now only sells Cornish pasties in large sizes. These are mostly quite tasty, though sometimes rather greasy: at least one survey has found Greggs' savouries to be higher in fat than those from some competing bakeries. The main problem, however, is that they are not reliably hot: sometimes they almost burn your hand off, sometimes they're barely lukewarm. I complained about this once and was told by the server that this was because of the batch nature of the cooking and was a reason Greggs was so cheap.
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