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NOW FINISHED: Help create PizzaExpress' Service Charter and have the chance to win £250 of PizzaExpress vouchers

(364 Posts)
Carriemumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 16-Sep-10 18:49:24

You may recall many moons ago we asked for your thoughts on what makes the perfect restaurant/ cafe for mums (here), but we cannily didn't tell you who was asking the questions as we didn't want that information to skew your answers? Well we can now reveal that the company who wanted to garner your collective wisdom was << small fanfare >> PizzaExpress and the reason they wanted to know is that they are in the process - in their words - of "creating the PizzaExpress of the future".

The first of their new generation restaurants will be unveiled on Oct 21st in Richmond (that's London not Yorks - sorry Yorkshire folks) and there'll be invites for Mumsnetters to road test it, with a chance to feedback and tell them what you think of the new concept before they start rolling it out elsewhere. Anyone interested in knowing more now, there'll be a blog about it live from Sept 17th here

They're introducing things that have the potential to keep children happy and occupied, like communal kids' drawing tables, and silent, interactive video screens created by the same chaps who did some of the great games at the Tate Modern. And they promise that there'll be room for buggies - one of the top things to come out of the survey smile It's going to be open all day, starting at 8.45, serving brunch and freshly baked daytime treats. The idea is that Richmond should feel like a bit like a 'living lab', where lots of new ideas are going to be tested out. The ones that work, they'll roll out, the ones that don't, they'll ditch.

One of the major themes that emerged from the initial survey was the difference good service makes to whether you frequent a cafe/ restaurant or not and PizzaExpress now want to create a Mumsnet Service Charter that they can use to help train their staff. Carrie is going to be videoed as part of their training, talking about what it's like to be a mum and what mumsnetters want and expect from good service. The idea being that this should help their waiters understand parents' needs and help them to help us make it through the day (or at least the bit of the day they spend in PE).

So go ahead - tell Pizza Express what three things would make your day (in terms of service). They can't guarantee to incorporate every single suggestion, but hopefully some themes will emerge that they can build into a realistic Service Charter.

We'll kick off:
Someone helping you with your buggy/ double buggy -rather than tutting when you struggle thro the door
Someone offering you something edible - even if it's just bread and water when you first sit down, and just being nice....
Sharp pencils
Good to get that off the MNHQ collective chest grin , now it's over to you. Everyone who offers suggestions for the Mumsnet /Pizza Express Service Charter on this thread will be entered into a prize draw where one lucky winner will receive £250 of Pizza Express vouchers.

Thanks and good luck
MNHQ

Hulababy Thu 16-Sep-10 18:53:00

Children's desserts that are not just icecream/frozen yogurt. Not all children like it!

Quicker service - we have two PE near here and, although we like the, the service is very slow.

Bring the children's meals first wherever possible.

fryalot Thu 16-Sep-10 18:55:50

colouring sheets to keep the littlies occupied while they're waiting

someone on hand to hold baby/pushchair/changing bag while you sort yourself out

someone to "guard" your stuff while you take a family trip to the toilet.

nameymcnamechange Thu 16-Sep-10 18:57:38

I find Pizza Express to be very child- friendly already.

I'd like to see

1. more choice on their children's menu.

2. smaller servings of drinks available. If you order apple juice or similar you get a great big glassful, a bit much for a pre-schooler.

and, erm, scraping the barrel a bit here

3. a free paper chef's hat for each child? blush.

As I said, I do think Pizza Express is already a great place to go with small children. Its always our number 1. choice anyway. But I would hate to see it become so child-centric that childfree people started to avoid it. Like Giraffe, for eg.

IMoveTheStars Thu 16-Sep-10 19:01:14

I'm actuallly struggling to think, our local one is already extremely good.

1. Somewhere to put buggies. A few I've been in have had spaces near the entrance with plenty of room for pushchairs and it would be excellent if this was standard across the chain

2. Mini pizzas for kids

3. NO separate areas for families with children. Some restaurants/pubs I've been to put all the families in one crappy area at the back so they're out of the way, I'd hate PE to go the same way.

lilmissmummy Thu 16-Sep-10 19:02:45

Definitely some fruit options on the childrens dessert menu.

Space to have pushchair in the building-you cant a pushchair between the tables in our local PE

Vegetarian childs pizza option perhaps with mushrooms, peppers, sweetcorn, pineapple etc

(also agree which the suggestions above!)

IMoveTheStars Thu 16-Sep-10 19:04:26

Sorry, was struggling for service related ones as the local PE is superb when we visit with DS, he's only 2 and they talk to him clearly, ask for his order, offer him a balloon/crayons etc.. very thoughtful.

I swear last time we were there the waitress was so nice to him he blushed a little bit grin

FloraFinching Thu 16-Sep-10 19:06:17

anything that can be done in a half portion (pastas, pizzas, most stuff in fact) should be available in a half portion. Most children I know will eat normal food and have no need for bland alternatives.

Bill to be brought quickly at the end of a meal. My toddler always does brilliantly while we're eating, but gets fidgety if there's a long wait to pay

SparkyMalarky Thu 16-Sep-10 19:06:17

Making space for buggy by the table or at least nearby - there's always something we need from it half way through the meal - we had a great experience at another italian chain restaurant doing this for us recently and it made such a difference.

Bringing the kids' food first - they take an age to eat it and it always needs to cool down.

Clearing the tables of flowers, cutlery etc without being prompted so the grown ups don't end up with 4 glasses in front if them in order to avoid a disaster.

Sounds like it could be great - although I'm not at all keen on video screens in restaurants - kills any chance of conversation!

withorwithoutyou Thu 16-Sep-10 19:07:07

Oooh, yes to snacks for little ones when you first arrive.

The lovely chap in Zizzi (sorry pizza express) brought some dough sticks over for free for DD one when we arrived. Was lovely of him.

FloraFinching Thu 16-Sep-10 19:08:37

actually, I would rather the food all arrives at the same time. I guess the answer is that waiting staff should ask the parents what they prefer.

Faster service
Friendly and pleasant staff that don't look like they can't be bothered and really don't want to be there
Vegetarian options that aren't all mushrooms or peppers
More than just a colouring sheet and pencils for children, doesn't last longer than 30 seconds plus something for the slightly older children to make them feel wanted too
Being able to choose what you want even if it varies from what's actually on the menu, long as they have the ingredients and it isn't vastly different; ie if they offer say a cheese and ham sandwich, being able to get just a cheese one

IMoveTheStars Thu 16-Sep-10 19:09:19

Sparky - excellent point about the glasses/cutlery, such a simple thing and it'd make a big difference

sethstarkaddersmum Thu 16-Sep-10 19:09:27

-baby toys to borrow for children who are too young to colour
-staff being honest about how long food will take - I accept it's going to be longer at busy times but it really helps to know how long so you can plan accordingly (eg take the most troublesome child out for a walk if it's going to be 20 mins)
-easily available cloths or big wodges of paper napkins so when your child spills something you can clear it up yourself without having to wait till you have attracted the attention of a waiter

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sethstarkaddersmum Thu 16-Sep-10 19:10:51

what Sparky said about clearing the table of extra glasses etc - what a great idea!
Or just have child-friendly flowers in child-friendly vases, child-friendly salt and pepperpots etc!

withorwithoutyou Thu 16-Sep-10 19:12:02

I'd like it if the floors weren't wood/marble or any other kind of material that makes the sound of my toddler screaming bounce around the room for everyone else's enjoyment grin

But I realise that that's neither service-orientated or practical.

TheProvincialLady Thu 16-Sep-10 19:15:39

Waiters who understand that placing a hot drink/large drink/any kind of drink next to a small child is going to result in that drink being worn by someone sooner rather than later.

Don't give a balloon at the end of the meal...I know it is a nice thought but it is a PITA to carry round town for the rest of the day and it always gets lost/burst.

Don't keep the kids' food standing under a hot plate whilst the rest of the food is being prepared - burning hot plates and food are not helpful and as someone else said, food for small children needs to cool down before they can eat it.

HinnyPet Thu 16-Sep-10 19:16:59

Definitely a little take-away (maybe drawstring) bag with pencils, colouring in sheets and puzzles that can be used again. (good marketing for PE?)
Agree somewhere, perhaps a cloakroom? for buggies.
Proper highchairs that kids feet can fit into without a struggle, not the type with a detachable tray.
Take all the crap off the tables (salt, pepper, oil and vinegar, fake plants, huge menus on a wooden stand) and replace with little sachets of condiments that are delivered with the meal. Less things for little hands to fiddle with and throw!

i want:

NO steps.

a door that is wide enough to get a double buggy through.

enough highchairs

enough pencils/crayons at the communal colouring area

the communal colouring area to actually be visible from plenty of tables, rahter then just the 2 closest to it

a sign or something you can leave on your table so they know you've taken the kids to the toilet and don't clear your food away

a decent kids menu with vegetarian options

ability to ask for changes in menu items- i have 2 egg/dairy free children and as a result never go to pizza places. but i might if i knew i could ask for no cheese and not a scrap would go on it!!!

NO NO NO interactive video screens. kids don't need screens imo. they aren't all tv junkies incapable of sitting still unless they have a screen in front of them.

BeatrixRotter Thu 16-Sep-10 19:17:45

Half portions for children and grandparents.

Staff to make sure safety belts on highchairs are there and working correctly. DD went through a standing stage and it was a nightmare trying to eat when she couldn't be strapped into the highchair.

Clean toilets

A 'choosing' plate for toddler with little bits of pizza, garlic balls, salad veg, crudites etc.

LadyBiscuit Thu 16-Sep-10 19:22:36

I loved the fact that they brought my son's drink in a plastic cup the other day - that's definitely new from last time.

YY to the non-icecream desserts. They have tried to cater for my son but a big puddle of chocolate sauce and a stack of wafers isn't ideal. I would love a small bowl of fruit.

Something to keep non-colourers occupied would be great - etch a sketches with a pen on a string?

Booster cushions for children who are too big for a highchair but need a bit of help to reach the table.

Child size cutlery.

If you're going to give colouring stuff, a booklet with a couple of different things to do (join the dots, follow the wiggly lines to the different pizza ingredients etc) and spot the pizza delivery man in a crowd would be much better than a flat sheet. It would be great if they changed regularly or there were at least 3 different ones (to encourage repeat visits wink)

Not sure about the video screens - are they going to be in all corners? How are you going to arrange the seats so that the children aren't craning their necks? And sorry, not what you wanted to hear but I want to talk to my kids when I eat with them, not have them staring at a telly.

MarionCole Thu 16-Sep-10 19:22:46

1. Not bringing the children's meals out last
2. Small child sized drinks on the menu
3. Child sized cutlery.

Pizza Express is generally very child friendly though.

Oh, and another one - can you try to cook the kids pizzas first and then leave them to cool a bit before you bring them to the table. Avoids the melt downs that occur when a toddler tries to eat a pizza that's like napalm.

WhatTheWhat Thu 16-Sep-10 19:23:55

Proper changing tables in the men's and in the ladies' loos. And in the disabled loos.

With long paper towel dispenser to cover the changer.

An offer of free nappies/wipes if you've forgotten yours (team up with Pampers).

Food warming service, or even offer of nice free baby food (Plum is good!!) with adult meal.

Provide baby and toddler drinking cups with handles.

Offer filtered tap water as standard.

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