Save Us, Each Day, Le Pain Quotidien

Posted on Jul 05, 2023. by NTI

In assembly at school (did you have such a thing, you Generation Y and Zedders?) we used to say the Lord's Prayer, but gave no thought to French kids saying, "Donne-nous chaque jour le pain quotidien", as we barely gave any thought to what we were saying, in any event.

To us 'Le Pain Quotidien' has always been a slightly quirky pastry and bread establishment where you could buy bread with hemp seeds and 'pain perdu' (French Toast prepared with brioche, served with strawberries, banana, mint, Greek yoghurt and warm chocolate sauce) if you were feeling 'high-end' and giddy with excess cash. Surely there is room for such immoderation and luxury in the crowded breakfast and coffee market?

It appears not, as our great friends at Kroll have stepped in as Administrators as BrunchCo UK, the owner of the Belgian boulangerie chain, has to face, for a second time, the end of the road for all but one of its outlets (the one in St Pancras, which is just too nice to close down and is owned by a separate company, SPG Holdings) after a sale process failed to attract any offers, despite the fact that spinach and chilli pancakes with lime butter, baby gem, baby spinach, coriander and lime sounds like a total winner (maybe it is the hefty 783 calories for each plateful that puts off the punters).

The business closed all of its doors (but two, the aforementioned double doors at St Pancras ...) with all 250 employees being made redundant. Headlines have rung out with phrases such as: 'another blow to the hospitality sector', but surely this is a greater punch in the gut to those who can correctly pronounce Shashuka (680Kcal) with chorizo, baked cannellini beans, baby spinach, roast red onion, avocado, parmesan crisp, coriander, chives, baguette and wheat bread. For people who cannot afford own brand beans at Tesco, Shashuka has become a thing of the past.

BrunchCo was full of eagerness, plans and butternut squash, caramelised onion and goats cheese frittata in June 2020 when they acquired 16 of Le Pain Quotidien’s 26 UK outlets in a pre-pack. How we middle classes looked forward to breakfast with gilt-edging and a saucy French feel. That, of course, was during the Covid pandemic when we still thought that we had a future when that nasty bug went away. The reality is that the business has been hit by reduced revenues as a result of lower footfall in London, high rents and rising wages.

Goodbye Shashuka.

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