PizzaExpress founder dies, aged 89

By Joe Lutrario contact

- Last updated on GMT

Peter Boizot PizzaExpress founder dies

Related tags: Casual dining, Pizza express

Peter Boizot, the founder of the PizzaExpress restaurant chain, has died aged 89.

His death was confirmed this morning by Peterborough United Football Club, which he previously owned and served as chairman.

Boizot founded PizzaExpress in 1965 after noticing a gap in the market for authentic pizza in London and sourcing a pizza oven from Naples and a pizza chef from Sicily.

With its contemporary look, high quality food, comparatively short menu and speedy yet friendly service the original Wardour Street site was a landmark restaurant and in many ways a blueprint for modern casual dining.

Boizot floated PizzaExpress on the London Stock Exchange in 1993, a move that saw franchises open across the UK. These franchises were bought back in 1996, kick-starting one of the industry’s biggest ever rollouts.

In 1977, Boizot created the Veneziana pizza to raise funds for Venice in Peril (a small amount from each Veneziana pizza sold was donated to the charity). The initiative has so far raised over £200,000 and for his efforts was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic.

Now owned by Chinese private equity company Hony Capital, PizzaExpress is the UK’s largest casual dining operator and currently operates 460 restaurants worldwide.

Though he sold his stake in the business some years ago, Boizot remained involved with PizzaExpress and received Restaurant​ magazine’s R200 Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015.

"In his 89 years, this remarkable entrepreneur achieved an astonishing amount, not just within the dining industry, but across music, sport, and charity as well," says PizzaExpress managing director Zoe Bowley. "He launched a culinary revolution with the first PizzaExpress in 1965, introducing delicious pizza and casual dining to the UK, inspired by his travels in Italy."

"His philanthropic work was renowned, raising £2million for the Venice in Peril fund and he inspired the company to continue this charitable mission. Peter’s spirit and vision to bring great pizza to the UK and beyond, and his passion for good food and good times, will live on. We will miss him dearly. Our thoughts are with his friends and family at this time."

 

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