Staff retention: PizzaExpress holds onto waiter for 45 years

By Emma Eversham contact

- Last updated on GMT

Ezekiel Martinez, who served his last pizza on Saturday following 45 years as a waiter at PizzaExpress
Ezekiel Martinez, who served his last pizza on Saturday following 45 years as a waiter at PizzaExpress

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Successfully retaining staff in the hospitality sector remains a challenge for operators, but Italian restaurant chain PizzaExpress is celebrating holding onto one employee for more than four decades. 

Last Saturday, on his 66th birthday Ezekiel Martinez (known as Eze) retired from his job as a waiter at PizzaExpress after 45 years. 

Spanish-born Martinez, who reportedly never received a complaint during his 45-year tenure, joined PizzaExpress' second restaurant on Coptic Street in London in 1970 to fill in for another waiter for just two weeks. He remained in the role for 21 years. 

He went on to work at PizzaExpress restaurants on the Fulham Road and in Knightsbridge before settling at Bow Street in Covent Garden for 20 years where he served a host of loyal customers and celebrities, including Mick Jagger, Jerry Hall and Rowan Atkinson. 

Model employer

Martinez said PizzaExpress was a 'model employer'. 

“The team and my customers are my family so it took me about three months to write my letter of resignation," he said. "I almost couldn’t bring myself to do it.  I’ve always been very happy working at PizzaExpress and try to project joy and happiness when I’m working – I think that’s why I’ve never had a complaint." 

PizzaExpress chief executive Richard Hodgson said: “Eze’s passion and dedication is what makes him so special. He speaks incredibly fondly of his customers. He’s watched his regulars get married, have families and grow up. They will miss him and so will we.”

Martinez, who joined the company just five years after it was founded by Peter Boizot, said he planned to remain active during his retirement and volunteer in a charity shop one day a week. 

Related topics: Business & Legislation, Restaurant, People

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