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‚Äú Welcome to Puccino¬ís, the U.K¬ís largest Family owned Coffee shop and cafe bar franchise. Puccino¬ís is an award winning subsidiary of Segafredo Zanetti Espresso Worldwide. With nearly 100 outlets in the UK, Ireland and Italy ‚Äě

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      15.10.2009 21:44
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      A family owned franchise chain of cafe bars.

      Since I've started my PGCE teacher training I've quickly learnt that you pretty much don't have a social life while doing a course like this. In fact one of my tutors said to me quite early on that it's probably a good idea to put your social life on hold until the following year when you've finished your training. At first I didn't believe them and thought they were merely trying to convince us to work harder but by the first weekend I'd realised that they were actually quite accurate. As such most of my weekends are spent working hard (except for frequent DooYoo breaks and X Factor too!) but in an attempt to remain sane I'll often escape from my house at lunch time to either see a friend or merely to have a break. I'm lucky in that I live within a five minute walk to a selection of bars, restaurants and shops but my current favourite to visit on a Saturday afternoon is Puccinos, and it has been for some time. What surprised me the most when I came to write this review was that there wasn't even a category for Puccinos on DooYoo, I thought they were quite commonplace and therefore expected someone to have wrote a review by now. Puccinos is actually the UK's largest family owned coffee shop and bar franchise with over one hundred outlets in the UK. It was established back in 1995 in response to a gap in the UK market for good quality coffee products mainly at travel locations. The business then expanded into cafe and bar operations on the high street towards the end of the twentieth century. Puccinos outlets can currently be found in one of three forms, firstly the cafe bars which are fully licensed restaurants found on high streets offering table service, deli bars which are a mixture of eat in and take area and espresso bars which offer take away drinks and food in busy locations. My local Puccinos is located in Stockton Heath which is a village located in Warrington within the county of Cheshire in the north west of England. If you want to find your nearest Puccinos then I'd recommend visiting their website at www.puccinos.com whre you'll be able to do that through their "Find Your Nearest Store" link. My particular store is located in a larger building which also houses several other bars and restuarants too and faces directly onto the main village road. The exterior of the store is a large window which runs across the entire cafe bar, there is a dark blue frame around the window with the brand name Puccino's being displayed above this. The cafe bar is accessed via a set of double doors which you simply need to pull or push depending if you're enterin or exiting the store. Overall the exterior is quite appealing and the glass windows are always very clean too which creates a good impression! Inside the store there's quite a calm and cool atmosphere about the whole place with a light wooden floor, brightly coloured walls and some lovely art work decorating the walls too. The art work is always quite amusing and designed specifically for Puccino's, it tends to have quite a contemporary and modern look to it. The large blue counter takes up most of the left hand area of the store although there are some comfy brown leather sofas in the window area. The rest of the floor is taken up with either circular or rectangular tables in a dark steel type colour with matching chairs.There is probably enough seating for about forty people on the ground floor while still retaining an un-cramped feel which is good as I hate to feel trapped when I'm eating in a cafe due to the sheer amount of tables they've crammed in. There is also two toilets at the back on this floor, one for men and one for women. As you enter the store leading up on the right hand side is a set of quite wide stairs which leads to the upper seating area. This is a replication of the ground floor really with there being some comfy brown leather sofas although the majority is taken up with tables and chairs, again there is probably seating for around forty people upstairs. Outside there is a outdoors seating area which is really popular in the summer, it can seat about twenty people comfortably and it's a real sun trap during the summer although it's normally kept closed in the winter. The decor up here is much the same, it's all quite modern although the store has been open for around seven years now so it is looking slightly like it could do with a bit of a revamp. However the main thing that I really like is that it's always spotlessly clean, the staff are always cleaning the tables and I've never noticed anything dirty whatsoever here. Now onto the most important bit really, the food and the drink that they serve here. The menu is quite varied and caters for most tastes, there is a breakfasts section which is served throughout the day, a section for ciabattas, foccacia bread and jacket potatoes along with all the different fillings you can have, a burgers section, a salads sections, a main meals section and a deserts section. The drinks are listed on the back page of the menu and these are what I'm going to cover first. The hot drinks include all your typical options such as capuccino, espresso, filter coffee and tea while the cold drinks include coke, lemonade, milk, etc. Puccino's also offer freshly squeezed orange which you can see being made on their counter as well as real fruit smoothies which are nearly £3 but are made completly with freshly squeezed orange and whatever other fresh fruits you choose with there being about eight to choose from. In the breakfasts there are about ten different dishes, there are some quite light options and some full English type options too and the staff are more than happy to mix and match for you. Prices start at about £2 for the most basic dishes and rise to about £6 for a Puccino's Mega Breakfast (basically a full English) complete with a tea or coffee. The snacks section features about ten different fillings which can be put into ciabattas, foccacia breads or jacket potatoes. The fillings are delicious and include a Tuscany option which is all different roasted vegetables and cheese, a Louisiana option which is bacon, chicken, lettuce and tomato, an Alaskan option which is smoked salmon, cream cheese and chives and a Chicago option which is salt beef, seed mustard dressing and red onion chutney. Price start at around £6 and go up to about £8, they all come with a small salad and loads of thin fries too. The burgers section offers about six different burgers including a veggie option and are priced between about £7 and £10, again they're served with a salad and thin fries too. The pizzas and pasta section offers a variety of dishes and the mains offers some larger dishes including steaks. Finally the desserts menu is fairly small and slightly disappointing in my opinion, there is about five different options including a cheesecake and a chocolate fudge cake, all of which are priced at around the £4.50 mark. Overall the menu is presented in a really clear way on a double A4 card which has clearly defined sections and all the different dishes are fully explained with a short text underneath each one. The one thing I've noticed is that the Puccino's where I live doesn't have any sort of specials board which seems to be almost commonplace in other cafe bars that I've been to and is slightly disappointing in my opinion. The staff are all very smart, normally they wear black trousers and a red Puccino's t shirt or a full chef's outfit if they're working in the kitchen. The table service is excellant, as soon as you sit down you'll find that a waiter or waitress is pretty much immediately present offering you a menu. The staff are always really pleasant and polite too. As I tend to visit so often I know the manager and the main chef there and they always greet me pleasantly and have a little chat with me when they can. The other thing I'd like to point out about the staff is that they're never rushed off their feet. Now that doesn't mean the cafe bar never gets busy because it quite often does, but there are always plenty of waiters and waitresses around meaning that they're never rushing around or too busy to talk to you. There seems to be a really happy atmosphere among the staff working in my local Puccino's too which is always a good sign. I've eaten here at least twenty times in the past year, if not more, and have never had a bad experience with the food whatsoever. Even during busy times such as a Saturday morning I've never had to wait for more than about five minutes to be served and more than about fifteen minutes for my food which is pretty good really. I've probably tried about fifty percent of the menu now, either through dishes I've ordered myself or dishes that my boyfriend / friends / parents have ordered and that I've tried. The food is always delicious and really hot too, you can see through into the kitchen where they're cooking it and I've never had any reason to send it back. The portions are also really big, when I visit at lunch time I tend to have a ciabatta with a various filling and the filling is always loaded on as is the salad and the fries too. I have never left feeling hungry or unsatisfied at all and I always look forward to going. The only thing I'd like to point out is that Puccino's is a franchise business meaning you can effectively buy your own business from them and just trade under their name. Basically the brand provide you with a site that's fully decked out in their chosen themes and get ongoing support and training from the brand too. However, in essence, you're actually running your own business in that you're responsible for the profits, the staff, the wages and most importantly, the day to day running of the store. Therefore it may be that the good quality I've experienced at my local one won't be repeated in every single one around the country as the running of it is left to the people or person who buys the franchise from Puccino's. I've never actually visited another one anywhere else in the UK and can only recall seeing one other at the moment. However I wouldn't let this put me off visiting another as the food will be very similar. This is always my first choice when I'm looking for somewhere to go for a drink or a bite to eat in the daytime. I've never had a bad experience here, the food is always wonderful, the place is always clean and welcoming, the staff are always friendly and the price is never too high. For two of us to have a drink each and a ciabatta it normally comes to around £16 to £18 which isn't too bad in my opinion considering the portion sizes that you get. I've never actually eaten here in an evening although they do stay open in the evenings and are fully licensed. They also offering christening and wedding receptions in the upstairs area which they're happily block off if you book it. I'm not sure about the cost or even the suitability for such things, it's a little too ordinary for a wedding I think really. However for breakfast, lunch or just a snack it's absolutely perfect and I'd well recommend a visit if you have one near you. Thanks for reading.

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