Pizza Express, one of the U.K.’s most enduring and successful restaurant chains, is piloting a refurb program designed to “future-proof” its operations. The new model — which features an open kitchen, dedicated bar space, and also some cocktails — debuted at the Oxford Circus location. It coincides with the launch of Za, the fast-casual iteration of the brand that differentiates itself by slicing pizza into pieces.
The centrepiece is a “theatre kitchen,” with a “defined bar space,” a first for the brand. Said bar space will serve new cocktails, including a Bloody Mary whose defining feature is fresh passata — pizza sauce in a glass. The food menu is the same as any other Pizza Express.
Pizza Express’ competitors have also been overhauling elements of their business models. Carluccio’s, which suffered through the casual dining crunch in a way Pizza Express has not, put £10 million into an online brand overhaul; Prezzo undertook a huge restructuring operation to keep its brand afloat. The intention here is to roll out the new layout if it proves successful — more soon on whether or not this pivot works out.