Pizza Express has become the latest restaurant chain to cautiously open its doors again with plans for 13 sites across London to offer delivery services.
The decision to reopen the sites over the next 10 days comes as Wagamama, KFC, McDonald’s, Greggs and Subway are all making similar plans or have started trading again after shutting due to the coronavirus lockdown.
Zoe Bowley, managing director of Pizza Express in the UK and Ireland, said the chain would offer an edited menu from restaurants in “London villages”, including Notting Hill, Balham and Fulham, where demand is highest.
Writing in industry newsletter Propel, she said: “We will do this to test and learn, and then it will enable us to programme the roll-out and ultimately pave the way for dine in the future.”
The 13 restaurants planning to reopen for delivery are Chiswick, Notting Hill Gate, Ealing, Abbeville Road, Shepherd’s Bush, Wandsworth Trinity Road, Greenwich, Belsize Park, Dulwich, Camden, Croydon George Street, Fulham Road and Balham.
All restaurants and bars have been allowed to remain open during lockdown but only for takeaways and deliveries.
However, many larger chains chose to shut completely, to protect staff from travelling to work.
Ms Bowley added Pizza Express would be following rival Domino’s Pizza, by offering a limited menu initially, to ensure staff can work safely in kitchens and prep areas.
She wrote: “There has been huge rigour around all the right safety protocols so our teams feel comfortable, and then we can really demonstrate to customers how we are looking after the teams and ensure they trust the quality of the pizza they receive.”
Ms Bowley later added in a statement: “In recent weeks, naturally our number one priority has been to protect the safety and wellbeing of our teams and customers. With this in mind we opted to take some extra time to ensure our phased reopening happens in a safe and responsible way in line with Government advice.
“We’re now delighted to confirm the start of a phased delivery-only trial across selected London pizzerias from Thursday 28 May.
“Once this trial has been safely completed, we’ll consider our plans for further rollout.”
The move follows Wagamama revealing plans to reopen 67 restaurants for delivery by the end of June.
And by Thursday, service station business Moto said it will reopen seven Costa drive-throughs and have 27 Burger Kings open for takeaway to the public.