Pizza Express is opening on Bankside this summer. The location is riverside Benbow House opposite Shakespeare's Globe.
This will be the fourth Pizza Express to open in SE1 and the largest. There are branches at Shad Thames, London Bridge and in Belvedere Road behind the Royal Festival Hall. The company, which once had a branch in Southwark Cathedral, is known to have been considering the Bankside site for at least two years.
Founder Peter Boizot tasted his first pizza in Florence in 1948 and in the 1960s he realised that the UK still lacked a good pizza restaurant. The first Pizza Express oven was brought from Rome along with an Italian to operate it and was set up in Wardour Street. In 1967 a second restaurant opened in an old dairy in Bloomsbury's Coptic Street.
Pizza Express was floated on the London Stock Exchange in February 1993. Three years later the restaurants, which were franchised, were bought back to give the Company greater control in ensuring the brand went from strength to strength. This has led to the total of over 300 restaurants in the UK and Ireland serving 16 million customers a year. Today Pizza Express also has restaurants in Barcelona, New Delhi, Tokyo and Paris.