Pizza Express – NOT worth the crust!

This afternoon at 1.00pm my partner, mother-in-law and I visited a Pizza Express restaurant in London on what is a ‘really’ hot British day.

We were deciding where to eat as we had walked around the area for some time in the sun and our feet ‘and’ stomachs were beginning to hurt a little, well mine was definitely. Us Brits, we moan when it’s hot and we moan when it’s cold – the weather can’t win!

Anyway, after much debate on what we wanted for lunch, we decided (well, 2 out of 3) to eat at Pizza Express and what a BIG disappointment it turned out to be, and I was a bit of a fan up until today, preferring it over many other pizzerias. Having entered the restaurant which wasn’t exactly buzzing with customers, my partner approached one of the waiters (well, the only waiter actually) and asked if they took the ‘Taste London’ discount card. As we have only just moved to the area, we signed up with Taste London, which is a great concept we think, getting you discounts and so on at some of London’s coolest restaurants, well 1000 plus to be precise.

We had actually checked on the Taste London iPhone application whether this particular Pizza Express restaurant took part in the offers and it did, but we was just double-checking. The waiter who was not the most welcoming told us that the restaurant didn’t take the Taste London card, even though the information on the iPhone application particularly states:

‘Due to huge demand.. (remember no one was in there!) PizzaExpress is unable to accept the cards (Taste London) ALL DAY on Fridays and Saturdays‘. This restaurants particular restriction was ‘offer not available this evening‘, as in Saturday evening, we were there in the afternoon!

Even though the waiter ‘got it wrong’, he went over to his manager, who was sitting in the corner of the restaurant, stuffing his own face with pizza, which wasn’t what we wanted to see. The waiter returned to us to say the manager too said the restaurant does not take the Taste London card. What a joke – I don’t see the benefit of purchasing one of these cards for 12 months to explore London, when you can’t use it. It’s not about being tight, but getting ideas on the best places to go via Taste London!

Having been refused twice to use the discount card, we asked if we could sit outside and have our food (there is an outside seating area of the restaurant). The waiter said we couldn’t, as there was actually only one waiter on duty. We didn’t know whether to laugh, as we thought he was joking. It has been 26oC in London today and we couldn’t sit outside, this was getting ridiculous. Even though Pizza Express was beginning to get on our crust, we were hot and a little tired, so rather than walk out, we stayed and had our pizza. The pizzas were actually nice, but the experience was awful.

What makes it more of a joke, is that Pizza Express’s own website states:

‘All restaurants claim to be passionate about service, but at PizzaExpress we really mean it. We only recruit ‘people people’ for our front-of-house teams and work hard to give our customers the warm welcome and attentive service they deserve. Our aim is that every customer leaves PizzaExpress feeling that little bit happier and more relaxed than when they came in. We want every visit to be a great experience but mistakes do happen and we don’t always get it right’.

People people’, ‘warm welcome’ and an ‘attentive service’, are they having a laugh? I’ve had better service at Pizza Hut and that’s were I’m going back to! We came out more stressed than we went in. My mother-in-law was so not impressed, that she wanted to give the waiter and manager a piece of her mind, but it wouldn’t have made any difference, as it was clear they didn’t care. They just wanted our ‘dough’!

A tip wasn’t left, as we felt a service wasn’t provided. We shouldn’t have paid for the pizzas too, but hey. What I didn’t know, but my mother-in-law was actually (until today) a bit of a Pizza Express fan herself and she had cut out of a national magazine (Closer) a 50% off voucher for Pizza Express to use sometime before the end of the month. She proudly produced this voucher from her purse and into the hand of the waiting waiter, who again went to his manager to check the voucher. This time he came back with a 50% reduction in the food bill – this one they couldn’t get away with!

So, the story for today to the big guys out there is that if you try and screw the little guys, sometimes things come back and bite you in the bum. The little guy can take on the big guy and win, we ended up with our 50% discount and you lost 3 customers. So, as they say in films… pasta la vista!

This has been my ‘View from the Bottom’, Max.

* For those of you who are interested in the Taste London card ( I still have faith in them), then visit their site at 50% off 1000+ Restaurants

As always, to ensure integrity and transparency, I have sent a copy of this post to both Pizza Express and Taste London

Published by My Mum. Copyright © Kevin Maxwell Film, Media & Performance 2010.