PizzaExpress has revealed plans to expand its live entertainment offering as the casual dining chain seeks to innovate during a challenging period for the sector.
The brands roots lie in live music and its debut site in Soho has seen jazz stars entertain diners for decades. Recent years have also seen the likes of singers Will Young and Ed Sheeran, comedians Harry Hill and Jason Manford and broadcaster Jeremy Vine take to stage in restaurants in Chelsea, Holborn, Maidstone and Birmingham.
Zoe Bowley, managing director of PizzaExpress, told The Guardian: “It’s a cluttered market so what’s critical is to remain differentiated.” Adding: “Innovation is keeping the industry going.”
In the last couple of years, the number of ticketed PizzaExpress Live venues have increased from three to five, while the number of restaurants offering live music on a Thursday night has increased to 33, with plans to expand further.
PizzaExpress’ music manager Ross Dines told The Caterer: “We’ve been expanding quite a lot over the recent years. It all dates back to the beginning, the founder of PizzaExpress was a big fan of jazz and opened a jazz club in 1976. That has been doing live music pretty much every night ever since, it is an exciting offering and people love the experience so we just need to consider what we already do well and how we can do it even more so.”
He added: “We don’t have a fixed number on how many more sites we will have in the coming months or coming years, but we’re looking at the estate and looking at what we can do more of.”
Dines said the intimate gigs have proved popular with diners adding that they are “something worth celebrating” and “can only help” as the casual dining sector faces challenging times with several of PizzaExpress’ rivals having recently announced plans to scale back sites.