Peach Report

PizzaExpress founder Peter Boizot an Industry Icon

19 November, 2010

Peter Boizot, creator of Britain’s most successful restaurant chain PizzaExpress, has won this year’s Peach Network “Industry Icon” award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the UK’s restaurant market. The presentation was made at a special awards lunch attended by 180 restaurant and pub industry executives in London on Thursday.

The trophy was presented to the 81-year-old pizza pioneer by Ian Neill,  chairman of Wagamama and a former colleague of Bozoit at PizzaExpress. He paid particular tribute to the inspirational influence Boizot had had on his own career in running restaurant businesses.
Other tributes will come from entrepreneur and investor Luke Johnson, current ceo Mark Angela and YO! Sushi chief executive Robin Rowland. Johnson, who along with David Page and Hugh Osmond bought the PizzaExpress brand from Boizot, highlighted Boizot generosity, particularly in giving his staff shares in the business.
Rowland said: “You need a pretty bold entrepreneurial character to drive a business the way Peter did from day one, a man who has a great passion for food and a sense of occasion in terms of creating a beautiful place to eat. PizzaExpress is a place of celebrations but also works on a day to day basis, Peter understood that intuitively.”

Peach Network’s founder Peter Martin said: “The Icon trophy goes to individuals who have made a lasting and positive impression; people who inspire, innovate and set the standards. Peter Boizot fits the bill perfectly. He has been an inspiration to generation of restaurant entrepreneurs. The passion, attention to detail and simplicity of operation that he bought to that first site lives on across the PizzaExpress group. That is his legacy.”
The award was judged by a group of fellow industry leaders and supported by Coca Cola, Martini, Royal Bank of Scotland, Coffer Corporate Leisure and Enotria Wine.

To see what key industry luminaries have to say about the legend of Peter Boizot,
Boizot opened his first PizzaExpress in 1965 in London’s Wardour Street. A second came two years later, but the brand now stands at 376 restaurants across the UK. Although, he sold his stake some years back, he remains involved as PizzaExpress president, even at the age of 81. As well as revolutionising the casual dining experience, he is also credited with starting the nation’s love affair with pizza.
He made PizzaExpress more than just a pizza restaurant, involving the brand in supporting interests as diverse as jazz, hockey and saving Venice. He introduced Pizza Veneziana in 1975, donating 5p of its price to the Venice in Peril fund. The donation is now up to 40p a pizza and has raised over £2 million for the fund.

A few of Boizot’s other notable achievements include introducing Peroni to the UK, fusing jazz and pizza with the world recognised PizzaExpress Jazz Club in Dean Street, playing host to the likes of Sting, Norah Jones, Jamie Cullum and continuing to recognize new and upcoming talent today.   Outside of PizzaExpress, Peter has been the owner and chairman of Peterborough United Football Club, founded the Soho Jazz Festival and launched his own champagne label “BOIZOT”.

Peter Martin concluded: “Peter Boizot has defined the casual dining sector, with his reputation and influence reaching far beyond London and the UK.  Peter has inspired, innovated and raised the bar for those that follow in his footsteps.”