PizzaExpress to open 118 restaurants for outdoor dining from April 12

PizzaExpress will reopen a third of its restaurants for outdoor dinning from April 12 – when Covid lockdown measures on hospitality businesses are finally eased.

The popular pizza chain is planning to open 118 of its sites in England, for what it is calling ‘Al Fresco April’.

Bosses of the chain, which has more than 370 restaurants across the UK, say they hope to reopen indoor dinning when restrictions are further lifted in May.

Plans to reopen restaurants in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland will be announced at a later date, bosses say.

Abbeville Road – Clapham


Kingston High Street


Abbey Road – London


Leeds – Headingley

Sheffield – Ecclesall Road


Cheshire Oaks

Leeds – Birstall

Shepherds Bush







Liverpool – King’s Waterfront



Cobham – Anyards Rd

Liverpool – One

South Woodford


Coventry – Belgrade Plaza Loughborough


Barrett St







Stockton Heath



Manchester – Piccadilly

Stratford East



Manchester – First Street




Mill Hill

Sutton – Belsize Park


Milton Keynes –  One

Sutton Coldfield

Berkhamsted High Street


Muswell Hill


Bexley Heath

Fulham Road (895 -896)



Bishops Stortford

Gabriel’s Wharf – South Bank






Tunbridge Wells








Walton On Thames




Wandsworth – Trinity Rd

Brighton – Prince Albert Street


Poole – Tower Park

West Bridgford

Brighton – Brighton Marina

Haywards Heath



Bristol – Harbourside

Hemel Hempstead


Wimbledon – Village





Bury St Edmunds


Reading – Oracle



Ipswich – Regatta Quay


Worcester Park








York – St Sampsons Square





Kings Road – Pheasantry

Rushden Lakes

Zoe Bowley, Managing Director at PizzaExpress said: ‘We’ve really missed buzz and bustle and seeing our customers enjoying their favourite pizza.

‘Our Cook At Home range and Click & Collect and Delivery services have been immensely popular during the past few months, but we can’t wait to fire up our ovens and swing open our doors again.

‘Whether you book or simply walk-in, our teams will be happily serving our delicious range of pizzas in our gardens and terraces throughout England and we’ll be ready to open in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland as soon as their national restrictions end.

‘Of course, we’re set to reopen all of our restaurants in England in May for both indoor and outdoor dining.”

The move will be a major boost to  the chain, which in October announced plans to cut 1,300 jobs after facing a profit hit due to tough coronavirus restrictions.

Bosses said the move would not involve closing down restuarants, but instead focus on a ‘slimming down’ of its staffing team.

Months earlier, in August, the chain announced it would close 73 of its restaurants and cut 1,300 jobs across Britain in a bid to stay afloat in the aftermath of last year’s lockdown.

Bosses last year said the chain’s High Street restuarants had been the worst hit, but said suburban and out-of-town locations had seen more resilient trading.

Its takeaway, delivery and retail operations also ‘performed strongly’ last year, chain chiefs added.

The reopening plan comes as pubs, bars and restaurants will be able to throw open their doors to outdoor customers in England from April 12.

Major pub chains including Greene King and Wetherspoon have already announced plans to reopen.

Wetherspoon, the UK’s largest pub chain, this week announced its seven point plan to reopen outdoor areas next month.

Customers will be able enjoy their pint of beer or glass of wine in outdoor areas of pubs from April 12,.

However Wetherspoon chiefs say punters will able to come into the pub to use the toilet – or if it is the only way to reach the outdoor area.

In and out routes will also be marked for those customers entering and leaving the pub, while test and trace will be in operation – as it was last time pubs were open.

The chain, which runs almost 900 pubs across the UK and Ireland, will encourage customers to use its app to place orders, though customers can still pay via a member of staff.

And there will be a slightly reduced menu, that will still include breakfast options, burgers, pizzas, deli deals, fish and chips and British classics

However bosses say the biggest difference to their rivals will be that customers will not be able to book places ahead of their visit. Wetherspoon will instead opt for a first-come-first serve policy.

Rival pub chain Greene King earlier this week announced its plans to reopen 442 of its managed pubs outdoors in England from April 12.

Unlike Wetherspoon, customers can book a garden table online from Friday 26 March.

However people will also be able to visit the pub outdoors without an advance booking.

Greene King Pub Partners tenants, who make up a further 875 pubs across England, will also be deciding on an individual basis whether to reopen their outdoor areas from 12 April, bosses say.

A Greene King spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘Sadly, we can only open around a third of our estate in April where we have outdoor space that will work and have a chance of being viable, but we know the vital role pubs play in communities and feel it’s important to open as many as we can to help people get back together once again.

‘We look forward to May when we can open many more of our pubs, and the all-important return to normality in June when the restrictions are fully removed, and we can start to rebuild our businesses.’

Rival pub chain Mitchells and Butlers, which runs Sizzlers and Havesters among other brands, said it plans to open up to 300 pubs in England on April 12.

A spokesperson added: ‘These plans assume we will have normal April weather – needless to say we have all fingers crossed for a spell of fine weather, in which case we may be able to open more pubs which we’d love to do. In pubs which do re-open, we’ll be encouraging customers to use apps to both pre-book and then to order from their table.’

Pubs will be allowed to open outdoor areas from April 12 in Step Two of the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown.

Step One, part A, was the reopening of schools and allowing a person to meet another person outdoors from March 6.

Part B, on March 29, will see the Rule of Six re-introduced in outdoor settings, as well as the return of outdoor sports and the loosening of the Government’s ‘Stay at Home’ message, which will become ‘Stay Local’.

Shops, hairdressers and pubs must remain closed until April 12 at the earliest – the same time gyms can get back up and running.

Even at that point pints and meals can only be consumed outdoors.

Campsites and holiday lets can reopen for single households from April 12 – but international travel is completely off the cards until at least May 17.

Social distancing rules will stay in force until June 21 at the minimum, with a government review to decide their future after that.

Another review will be held at that point to decide whether a system of vaccine certificates could be deployed within the UK to help open up the economy, something the government has previously said it is not considering.

Sports can start to return from May 17, although venues will need to work on reduced capacities.

Up to 30 people can go to weddings from the same date, but are stuck at that number until the next phase of the roadmap.

Only at June 21 will all legal limits on social contact go, and the remaining elements of the hospitality sector be allowed to open.

The PM has previously stressed that he is being driven by ‘data not dates’ and the timeline is not guaranteed.

The popular pizza chain is planning to open 118 of its sites in England for what it is calling ‘Al Fresco April’

It comes as hospitality trade leaders this week announced they were going to court over the ‘plainly irrational’ decision to restrict pubs and cafes to outdoor opening only from April 12 while allowing non-essential shops to reopen to customers.

1) Test and trace in operation

2) Customers can come through the pub if that is the only access to the outside area

3) Customers can come through the pub if they need to use the toilet

4) Payment by app is preferable but those without the Wetherspoon app can order and pay direct with a member of staff

5) In and out routes will be marked throughout the pub

6) No booking system – meaning it will be first-come-first serve for customers

7) A reduced menu – including breakfast options, burgers, pizzas, deli deals, fish and chips and British classics

The challenge is from Hugh Osmond, founder of Punch Taverns, and Sacha Lord, night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, who believe pubs should be allowed to open before shops.

Mr Osmond, a former director of Pizza Express, has written to the Prime Minister saying there was ‘no evidence or justification’ for prioritising the shops over hospitality.

He said yesterday that was because the range of Covid-safety measures put in place by the hospitality trade meant ‘the risk of transmission is plainly higher in non-essential shops’.

But he told Mr Johnson that ‘time is of the essence’ for the sector and warned that ‘the cost of lockdown to the hospitality industry is £200 million a day’.

Mr Osmond also warned the Prime Minister of the ruling’s effect on jobs, citing the ‘potentially indirectly discriminatory effect’ on young people and those from minority ethnic backgrounds who work in hospitality.

He said yesterday: ‘This legal case will give a fighting chance to over three million people who work in hospitality and to the tens of thousands of businesses, suppliers, landlords and contractors large and small forced into bankruptcy.’

Declaring ‘our democracy should be better than this’, Mr Osmond raised hopes that the legal action would ‘open up a chink of light’ for all those who had been affected adversely by the Government’s anti-Covid measures.

Lawyers for the action will argue that it is ‘a matter of simple logic and borne out by the evidence’ that safety measures were easier to enforce in pubs and restaurants than in non-essential shops.

They will say: ‘Customers attending a hospitality venue for table service are easily identifiable through track and trace which they are requested to complete as a condition of entry, and can occupy their own socially distanced areas, in stark contrast to customers browsing and queuing in shops.’

The Government has until Wednesday to respond to the legal challenge, representatives for Mr Lord say.

Pizza Express founder Peter Boizot

The first Pizza Express opened on Wardour Street in London’s Soho on March 27, 1965, opened by founder Peter Boizot.

He had been working in the Associated Press news photography department in Rome and selling postcards from a barrow in St Peter’s Square, but is said to have been unable to find anywhere in London to buy a proper Italian pizza.

He shipped over an authentic pizza oven over from Naples and was also the first man to import Peroni beer to the UK.

The original location in Soho opened selling square slices of pizza in greaseproof paper through the front window, before launching a restaurant designed by Enzo Apicella with a wine menu and dining tables.

Mr Boizot sold his shares in the business in 1992 and the company was owned by a variety of firms until Chinese private equity group Hony Capital bought it in 2014 for £900million.

The chain now owns 449 restaurants across Britain, with 67 of these at risk of being closed under the proposed restructuring.

Mr Boizot died in December 2018 aged 89, and his entire estate was swallowed up by a £45,000 tax bill owed on his death.

He lost the bulk of his money by taking over and investing in his struggling local football club, Peterborough United, and buying a theatre, art galleries and a hotel.

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