Pizza Express started at a small shop in Soho district in London and was founded by Peter Boizot, a man described as someone who loved to travel and eat good food. After five decades, the pizza restaurant is one of the most successful brands in the UK, operating about 472 shops in its home region alone.
It has since grown into an international chain with multiple branches in Cyprus, Gibraltar, India, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, Middle East, and now the Philippines.
Design-wise, no two Pizza Express restaurants in the world look exactly alike. Haouchine said that each restaurant has its own unique design depending on its location. He said that this is because of the 97-year-old founder’s philosophy and love for music and art.
The Philippine branch is very sophisticated and has a lounge feel—black and white floors, plush green chairs, a 3D map of London wall feature, and white marble counters of the all-white open kitchen.
Hakim Haouchine, Pizza Express’ head of international business development, stressed that although the restaurant is not authentic Italian but rather “inspired Italian,” – they make sure to serve the best food to its customers.
“We believe in innovation but we have our own way of delivering food. Although we’re not authentic Italian, we’re inspired Italian. For example, Italians don’t put chicken in pizza but we do. But we don’t put it in just to have chicken in pizza but a really nice recipe with chicken,” he shared.
That’s why once the brand has settled in the local market, they will add unique dishes for Filipinos like the peking duck pizza in China and the chili crab pizza in Singapore.
Haouchine added that he is quite optimistic with the Philippine market especially because of the partner they chose to work with. “Definitely I’m optimistic with our partner here. I have seen their concepts and it’s so inspirational and I see their passion for food and life. I’m very confident they can take this brand into a really good place in the Philippines. I worked with many Filipinos in my life like in Hong Kong, Singapore, and the Middle East they all love Pizza Express.”