JD Wetherspoon first started serving breakfasts across its chain in 2002. Now, with just short of 1,000 outlets and revenue of over £1.4 billion it is the UK’s fifth largest purveyor of breakfasts with only Greggs, Costa, Starbucks and McDonald’s selling more. Last year JDW sold 24 million breakfasts and 50 million cups of Lavazza. Every branch is fitted with bespoke axminster carpeting with a design reflecting the area, building or name costing £30,000- twice the average price for pub carpets.
They have a reputation of opening pubs in odd and interesting buildings, the one I wandered into today – The Navigator – was originally Branch 78 of the Liverpool Co-operative society, a collection of shops with quite a lovely art-deco facade. Presumably called The Navigator due to the proximity of St Brendan’s (patron saint of navigators) Roman Catholic church. Like a pratt I forgot to look at the carpet.
I’d gone for a walk and a haircut, a review of JD Wetherspoon was on my long-list and there I was, at elvenses, right outside one. So I dived in. The last time I’d been in a JDW in daylight was over 10 years ago in a building that had been a huge pet shop which quite grimly closed down after a fire. I remember it being a bit rowdy, quite a nice sausage, and sachet sauces.
People seem to love or hate Wetherspoons with the same sort of passion as Marmite. This is especially apparent when it comes to the Wetherspoon fryup. I went for the basic breakfast with a mug of tea for £4.15. Quite unnervingly it took exactly 10 minutes to the second from my ordering to being served. It was ok, for £4.15 I wasn’t expecting a surprise, my expectations were almost exactly met.
Instantly recognisable from the bright blue and white daisy pattern on the not even slightly warm corporate crockery, the catering-pack frozen sausage had been deep fried and unfortunately, as they often do, looked a bit phallic. The egg was over and swamped with runny beans, tomato had only been shown the griddle so was hard as a bullet, hash browns were greasy horrible things (to be fair I am not a lover of hash browns but I’ve tried enough of them to be able to judge them), the bacon was surprisingly tasty, if a bit stripey. The lightly toasted bread was cold and rubbery. I’m almost sure you have 2 slices in your pic of this on your menu on the table JDW?
Tea was nice, as was the lack of music – Wetherspoon take an Orwellian approach to music, neither a radio nor a piano and it wasn’t an unpleasant place to eat. It wasn’t rowdy, there were a fair few people working their way through a fair few pints but doing so cheerfully, there were people having little business meetings with their ipads out, and a few people like me, not being too disappointed with their breakfasts because in our heart of hearts we knew what we were going to get when we walked in and JDW absolutely delivered. It is what it is, it does what it does. Staff were absolutely lovely, the place was spotless and didn’t smell of rank stale beer and if I only had a choice between JDW, Greggs, Costa, Starbucks and McDonald’s for breakfast then JDW would be my first choice. I sincerely hope I never find myself in that situation though.