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    BOGOF: the voucher divide splitting a once-great middle-class restaurant

    City chains have always had an archetypal customer associated with them, and this is the way customers tend to like it - it means they know they’ll be surrounded by their own kind whichever branch they stumble upon. Take All Bar One for example, packed with suited accountants from 6pm every night, pints in hand - the classic after-office drinking hole since 1998. But they’re a pretty easy bunch – turn up looking a bit “9 to 5”and you’re in.

    The archetypal Pizza Express customer, on the other is not so welcoming. The recent explosion of the BOGOF (buy one get one free) vouchers and the ‘credit crunch lunch’ has made the chain accessible to ANYONE, students and hen parties included. Having worked for the company on and off for years, I can tell you that the old school clientele are not best pleased.

    The classic choice for that pre-theatre bite to eat, Pizza Express was once the classiest of fast food chains. Cast your mind back. They very much catered for the ladies in the Jaeger overcoats who could pop in, knowing the house white was always decent and the classic Siciliana/Padana/Americano was never taken off the menu. The open plan kitchen meant they could see their food being prepared by the funny little Polish men in stripy T shirts too - all very civilised.

    But everything’s changed now for the Jaeger ladies.  They find BOGOF most distasteful and you’ll see a slight twitch in their faces when the next table on start rustling their big A4 print-outs. With the vouchers has come a huge wave of new business for Pizza Express – there are queues out of the door, screaming and hungry children and bookings of 20 and 30 to deal with, nobody has time for chit chat and special treatment. Of course giving away free pizzas costs money but at the end of the day it means bums on seats. “I’ve saved on a pizza,” people think, “bugger it I’ll have a Tiramisu.” We’ve all done it, right? I suspect the company is thriving. Expect plenty more branches popping up, more queues, and more promotions to come.

    The face of Pizza Express has truly changed and though you’ll still spot old school P.E lovers here and there, battling it out trying to get through the BOGOF phenomenon it won’t be long before they’ve given up completely and found somewhere new. 

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    Reader Comments (9)

    A friend of mine had her bag stolen off the back of her chair recently in a pizza express - bet that wouldn't have happened before the BOGOF vouchers. Although I'm sure she was probably using one at the time herself.

    September 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEmmalou

    See. Riff raff. Rife and let loose. A subway simply won't them these days. Lets compromise. They can have Pizza Hut and we can have Pizza Express.

    September 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJessMayne

    * won't do them *

    September 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJessMayne

    I'm really not sure who Pizza Hut's customers are these days. In the ones in London, it's usually tourists or people who I reckon have settled here quite recently. But outside London I rarely hear the words "We went to Pizza Hut last night - we always go there."
    I don't want to seem to sneer though. The Pizza Hut salad bar is one of my guilty pleasures. A little taste of the late 1970s on your high street.

    September 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSpellman

    What do you think would cause the biggest uproar amongst Pizza Express Jaeger ladies, BOGOF vouchers or if Pizza Express added stuffed crust pizzas to its menu?

    September 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSheila Speed

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