PizzaExpress is to open a new 146-cover flagship restaurant near London’s Leicester Square.
The restaurant will open in what used to be a Cafe Rouge at 43 Charing Cross Road, close to Leicester Square tube station and sport new stylistic elements while still trying to remain true to the principles of Pizza Express’ first interior designer, Enzo Apicella.
The site was the home to the Crown pub for 100 years (1890-1990) and the new restaurant will celebrate the architecture and history of the Grade-II listed building, according to PizzaExpress.
It is the first time that the company, acquired last year from Gondola by Chinese private equity firm Hony Capital for £900m, has opened a designated flagship site.
On the outside of the building, mosaic tiles featuring gold crowns can still be seen and are complemented by an up-to-date take on a traditional black and gold signage scheme, spelling out ‘PizzaExpress’. Cut crystal and gold spirit decanters hang from the ceiling, while the warm colour palette also hints at the building’s past.
Given the restaurant’s proximity to cinemas that regularly host UK film premieres, it will also feature famous movie quotes such as a sign declaring “It’s a wonderful life” made in the style of an old illuminated cinema board near the restaurant entrance.
Head of design, Jonathan Griffiths, said: “We’ve always viewed ourselves as the custodians of the fantastic buildings we work in, creating designs that celebrate the space as well as their heritage. Our Leicester Square restaurant is a great example of how we’ve married the needs of the building with Enzo’s eye for creating spaces that people want to inhabit.”
The new restaurant opens on 13 February.