PizzaExpress is to begin rolling out its new generation of restaurants, following its experiment with the format in its "Living Lab" in Richmond (pictured).
The Richmond site opened in autumn last year and tested new features including acoustic panels and domes above tables to make holding a conversation easier, iPod docks at the tables, and a kiosk serving coffee, breakfast and snacks.
Today PizzaExpress reported that like-for-like sales at the site had risen 15% overall, and by 20% in the evenings. The company also claimed that 93% of customers who dined at the "Living Lab" enjoyed their experience.
As a result, PizzaExpress will introduce the new concept - or elements of it - to three restaurants in London in March and April: Balham; Fulham, 895 Fulham Road; and Brent Cross (which is a new site). Three nationwide sites will also benefit from the treatment: Newbury; Glasgow, Queen Street; and Brighton, Prince Albert Street.
Each of the sites will feature several if not all of what the company calls its new "brand signatures". These new features are:
1) A new layout designed by Ab Rogers, which will involve turning the kitchen into a more prominent "performance area" for pizzaiolos, who can show off pizza-making and ingredients.
2) Noise reduction through acoustic panels which have been developed with Sergio Luzzi, a professor of acoustics.
3) A calendar of events which will involve treating the restaurant as a venue which will host events appealing to different audiences such as a live music night or playdough hour.
4) An attempt to "feed great conversations" among customers through the restaurants service and design.
By Neil Gerrard
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