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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

cakeforbrains Thu 16-Sep-10 19:24:36

I second thisisyesterday - greater awareness of allergy issues in young children. DS2 is allergic to milk (and I'm BFing him so avoiding milk too), but I've stopped going to Pizza Express cos the staff treat me like a freak every time I ask for a cheeseless vegetarian pizza.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Thu 16-Sep-10 19:24:49

I think PE are actually one of the better chains at catering for families, certainly as a BFing Mum I've always been made to feel very welcome and staff haven't batted an eyelid - in fact they have been extra attentive about bringing drinks quickly etc.

A couple of points though.

Please unlock both sides of the double door so that it is actually possible to bring your buggy inside when you have a child who is too little for a highchair (Basingstoke branch yes I am looking at you)

Some dough sticks or something available immediately for children if the parents want.

Do not put down a plate of boiling hot food, or a full glass of wine directly in front of a small child.

EccentricaGallumbits Thu 16-Sep-10 19:27:03

NO video / TV screen!

Free wine for parents when accompanied by a child (really trying here)

FlyingInTheCLouds Thu 16-Sep-10 19:27:50

let kids 'make own pizzas' - pizza with tom, then they add some toppings.

Make the staff as lovely as the ones in Chester where we went the other day and they entertained my baby while I ate smile

Make staff know that holding hot drinks/food over babies/children is not on.

nymphadora Thu 16-Sep-10 19:28:43

More choices of pizza. Not sure about pizza express as none near me so have only been on holiday but most places just do ham/ cheese& tomato.

Also 2 sizes of kids meal one for tinies and one proper half portion for older kids.

Pannacotta Thu 16-Sep-10 19:29:49

Agree with most of the others:
easy to open doors if using a buggy
somewhere safe to leace buggy

child sized cutlery and plastic cups
child sized drinks
taster/tapas plate for kids with more veg choice as well as wheaty things like dough balls/pizza/pasta eg cucumber, oilves, carrots etc

choice of toys/colouring (boys less keen on colouring pencils IME)
quicker service

I do like our local PE - we often take our boys there and its very popular with families (due to lack of other options sadly).

MiniMarmite Thu 16-Sep-10 19:30:21

Checking that the charter is implemented across the board would be important - my local Pizza Express already offers a lot of things I would want so I have taken my DS to others in the hope that they would be the same and found them, sadly, lacking.

The things that are great that we already find at our local one is:
- help with the pushchair on arrival,
- being asked if we would like some doughballs/drink for DS at the point that we are being seated (also asking if Mummy would like some wine grin),
- staff even looking after kids for a few minutes (e.g. offering to show them the pizza being made) while Mum and Dad actually get to eat something!,
- bringing pencils etc straight away, putting hot food/full drinks a suitable distance away from a young child.
- being generally friendly!
- plenty of highchairs
- quick service between courses
- chefs hat!

I would not want any video screens - too much of a distraction and not the type of environment I would encourage my child to eat in - we don't eat in front of the TV at home so would not want to do so when out.

Room for push chairs.

Kids portions of the adult menu available as far as possible.

Intermediate type chairs for children 18 months - 3/4 years who are too big for a high chair/too small for a normal chair e.g. Stokke Tripp Trapp.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Thu 16-Sep-10 19:31:11

A definite NO to video screens. All that will happen then is that meltdown will occur when it's time to sit and eat.

I don't take my toddler out to a restaurant to have him wanting to run off to play areas and whatever, I just want somewhere to go and have a nice meal as a family without being sneered at by waiting staff and being made to feel like a pain in the arse for asking for a sippy cup to be re-filled or for a toddler's food to be brought on a cold plate rather than a scorching hot one.

QOD Thu 16-Sep-10 19:31:41

non fizzy drinks and tap water to be available - went last year in London with 3 11 yr olds and it was excellent. Oh apart from the drinks AND the loos were on a different floor which had an event room which was in use. Bit scary for me to send 11 yr olds off into the realms of drunken party goers.

mazzystartled Thu 16-Sep-10 19:34:24

accessible toilets not MILES away up and down stairs
gender neutral baby change not shared with disabled loo
soft seating area or couple of sofas/"break out space"
doggy bags

deepdarkwood Thu 16-Sep-10 19:35:09

Staff who don't assume kids won't eat adult food (dd is most unimpressed when she doesn't get offered tomato sauce rather than pepper or parmesan smile
Once food is eaten up, kids get much more restless - so if waiters can bring the bill promptly, rather than hanging around once the ide dream is devoured...
I always wonder if there's something cheap that restaurants can give for kids to play with that isn't paper and crayons (miraculously mess-free playdough? tiny bricks?) - just something a bit more play worthy.
I do love places that have books that you can read and return too (much as I hate giraffe in many other ways...)

ShirleyKnot Thu 16-Sep-10 19:35:20

yy about letting kids pizza's cool down a little while sorting out the adults food. Excellent idea.

Love the babychino that they do now, keep up with that.

I <heart> PE and have taken my (<sigh>) bigger children there since they were little ones. They can now eat from the adult menu and so I'm a little out of touch, but there are always lots of younger families when we visit and it's got a great family feel.

TheLimeFairy Thu 16-Sep-10 19:35:32

Taking the kid's ffod out of the oven first so it has a chance to cool down a bit before it is put in front of them!

bulby Thu 16-Sep-10 19:35:33

Vegetarian childrens choices or even better where possible children have the same options as adults in smaller portions.
A snack when waiting for food eg. Breadstick.
Room for buggies to get in and around restaurant and somewhere to put them.
A restaurant that is child friendly but not a playground, we go as a family for a meal and children have to learn social etiquette iyswim.
No clutter on tables ( but please not sachets they are so wasteful)
Smaller but proper cuttlery for wee hands
A reassurance that I will never get the table next to the childrens washing up area lol

deepdarkwood Thu 16-Sep-10 19:36:56

Oh, and another no to video screens(despite loving any interactive gadgets) unless positioned somewhere where kids go and watch/play when adults have quiet eating time. But even then, not totally convinced....

BornToFolk Thu 16-Sep-10 19:37:00

I love the idea of a child's tasting plate. We've never been to PE as a family but have been to Carluccios a few times and we like getting the mixed anti pasti so that we can all share it and DS can try little bits of new things.

As a veggie family, we'd really, really like to see a ban on pasta with tomato sauce on all kids' menus. It's so boring! It's the kind of meal that you make as a quick supper at home, not really what you want to eat in a restaurant.

In general, quick, friendly service is essential, especially at the end of the meal.

Goldberry Thu 16-Sep-10 19:37:02

I think PE is great for kids, but the following would be helpful:

1) plastic cups for kids
2) no black pepper on kids' pizzas (my dd once refused to eat hers and when I tasted it, it was really quite pepper-hot
3) how about selling baby food, even if only one of the ready made but good quality ones (plum organic or something)? I often wonder why cafés don't do this - I'm sure it would make them very popular.

nooooo don't ban tomato pasta!!!! a few years ago i'd have agreed, but it's one of the few things my egg/dairy free kids can actually eat.

unlss they replace with an alternative vegan option, that would be ok

EccentricaGallumbits Thu 16-Sep-10 19:38:37

Got another. may be unpopuler.

No children after 8pm. I like pizza express but not mad keen on othr peoples children around if trying to have an adult meal.

belledechocolatefluffybunny Thu 16-Sep-10 19:41:10

Not charging the parents if their children want a topping on their small pizza, ds likes ham and chicken, I get charged and extra £1 for this, it's the worlds smallest pizza, I'm spending £30 so surly they can give him 4 small bits of chicken and ham free?

The activities are only for younger children and there's not alot of variety. He used to get bored after the second visit as he'd already done the puzzles on a different visit.

There should be a older childs menu. The adult pizzas are too big, the childrens are too small and there's nothing in between for the older child with a bigger stomach then a 5 year old.

More highchairs.

More choice of desert on the childrens menu, it's all ice cream.

Plastic glasses for the little children please.

No TV/games, we go there for family time and so I can teach him manners, parents can't do this if their child is glued to a TV/game.

No loud music please, it destroys the conversation as children are often quiet so the parents can not hear them.

Alot of the adult pizzas that older children eat are covered with veg, this upsets alot of children with a veg phobia. It's often cheaper for parents to order a normal adult sized and ask for no veg, could you do this please rather then splatter the veg on anyway? Could you also swap toppings without charging aswell/give a discount for reduced toppings?

1 - BUGGY PARKING! We have to take our pushchair everywhere as we don't have a car. so to be able to roll into somewhere and there be an area avilable for me to park my buggy (unfolded would be brilliant but folded fine too) would be really helpful.

2- More choice of kids drinks please!! They aren't allowed fruit shoots or coke but they don't want water either!! Apple juice, tropical juice, just water with squash (no added sugar) would be fab! please

3- CLEAN high chairs brought to the table, if an empoyee sees you coming in with the kids please come take our buggy, take us to the table and bring us a clean highchair, one without bits of food all stuck in the cracks and that feels clean rather than greasy!

4- Kids toilets? (too much?) would be great to have smaller loos and lower sinks and soap dispensers for little ones

pebblejones Thu 16-Sep-10 19:42:55

I was offered a highchair last time I went into pizza express, my DS was 2 months at the time!
I would like their service to be a little faster and I would like the waiter/waitress to offer me the bill, rather than me trying to flag them down for 10 minutes... For example "Can I offer you any dessert or coffees? Or do you require the bill?"

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

Pizza Express is one of the most child friendly restaurants we eat in and it's actually very hard to think of any improvements they could make. The staff are lovely and whenever DS3 drops a toy or crayon someone magically appears and picks it up for him.

As you'd like us to suggest three things to make a meal in Pizza Express better then...

1: Could you turn the thermostat up a little please. Our local PE (Caterham) is always so cold. I've often had to put my coat back on mid meal.

2: Could one of the waiting staff please remove the little glass bottles/vases containing flowers when you sit down at the table if you have children with you as they're a real source of facination to little grabbing hands.

3: Could the cutlery also be removed from the child's place setting until the meal arrives as they create a huge and embarrassing din when they hit the floor repeatedly.

Lotkinsgonecurly Thu 16-Sep-10 19:45:28

Childrens food bought out first.
Tap water and bread basket immediately as you sit down.
Understanding that with children we are likely to want to eat and then get out, when the children start running around we really need the bill.

It would really be nice to be able to have small portions of everything, not just a special 'children's menu'. And not just for children either, my aunt for example has a very small appetite and would much rather have a small portion of a proper meal than either leave loads or try to order from teh children's menu and be told it is only for under-10s.

(not me, I have a big appetite, maybe you should also do extra big portions for greedy people wink)

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