BRAIN FOOD: Canteen culture

BRAIN FOOD: Canteen culture - Entree: The John Lewis Partnership (JLP) is no ordinary firm and this is no ordinary canteen; rather, it is the 'partners' dining room'. The company's founder, John Spedan Lewis, was a social reformer and the business he buil

by JOHN LEWIS
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Entree: The John Lewis Partnership (JLP) is no ordinary firm and this is no ordinary canteen; rather, it is the 'partners' dining room'. The company's founder, John Spedan Lewis, was a social reformer and the business he built is owned by a trust and exists for the benefit of its employees, all of whom are known as 'partners'.

Main dish: The cant ... sorry, dining room serves breakfast, lunch and high tea to hungry partners. Food is pleasant and varied, with (for breakfast) everything from a standard-issue brickie's fry-up to muesli and fruit salads; the croissants tasted agreeably buttery and tea cakes were light and generously raisined. Partners are clustered throughout the large, well-lit room chatting away, but there's not much management to be seen.

Feedback suggests that egalitarian as JLP may be, mere partners prefer not to sup with their bosses. So managers eat the same food in a different room.

Dessert: At JLP, it is ingrained in the culture that partners' minor complaints be dealt with swiftly - little acorns and all that. There is a comments book where diners enter views ranging from 'The Southern Fried Chicken was very tasty' and 'Lovely' to 'There's no food here worth eating'; each comment receives a response from the catering manager. Worth mentioning, too, are the prices: JLP subsidises the fare and cost-conscious partners can get a three-course meal for as little as 84p.

Whine list Although not exactly tatty, the place could do with a lick of paint. And the cappuccino's not the greatest either - but it does cost less than 30p a cup.

Brain food is edited by Rhymer Rigby: rhymer.rigby@haynet.com.

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