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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

Nickydoffay Tue 19-Oct-10 13:36:40

Impressed with service already but possibly:
1. Child sized/ plastic cutlery, plates etc
2. Maybe a pizza with a face!
3. Age appropriate colouring sheets with sharp pencils!

SylvanianFamily Tue 12-Oct-10 17:16:10

I think the USP is that it's actual dough, rather that play dough, iyswim

notwavingjustironing Tue 12-Oct-10 14:20:33

It's slightly bizarre that the first thing they are advertising as new and improved is playdough....

Did we mention playdough? Or did it get lost in the "better service please?"

SylvanianFamily Tue 12-Oct-10 14:14:19

I know this is closed, but can I add:

- do not put dandruffy unadvertised grated cheese on top of kids food without asking. And if you do, and the kid won't touch it, please provide a replacement quicker that twenty minutes! That was actually the Jamie Oliver restaurant, but not great for Dd.

- imaginative nandos style puzzles are better than colouring. Last time we got these push out little chicken shapes, a push out spinner and other bits which turn into a little game. Novelty value = quieter meal.

- bread on arrival. Kids juice in small dilute portions - to stop them filling up on a pint of neat apple juice before the food arrives.

AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 11-Oct-10 13:50:15

Am pleased to say FlyingInTheCLouds name came out of the hat and she wins £250 of PE vouchers - am email is on its way to you smile

amidaiwish Mon 27-Sep-10 20:23:11

I go to PE a lot, at least weekly and do you know what really pees me off the most:

in Teddington they charge £2.25 for an apple juice for a child. this apple juice (from a 2l milk type carton) is then served in an ikea-esque scruffy half chewed tumbler. boak. and fricking big fat cheek at that price.
same with the ice cream - little scoop in an ikea plastic bowl

in Twickenham service is SO MUCH BETTER and you actually get a decent (clear at least) sized but still tumbler of apple juice and the ice cream is served in a glass bowl.

people of pizza express - children over the age of about 2 DO NOT NEED CRAPPY PLASTIC CUPS AND BOWLS!!! when was the last time a child dropped one hey?

1) give kids decent crockery
2) sort out your kids' drinks prices, or even better include them in the price. (or i am just going to order tap water).
3) service generally is a bit hit and miss. very good in Richmond and Twickenham, BAD in Teddington, variable in Kingston (opposite station).

Aitch Mon 27-Sep-10 20:15:21

i LOVE centotre. love love love. and the people who run it are completely passionate about italian food.

we were going to go to PE today but my sil reminded me the last time we went there was black pepper on dd's pizza and i had to ask them to take it back as she hates any 'spike' at all in food.

cue a distinctly odd exchange between self and waitress where she denies pepper is on pizza, i say it is, she says no, it's oregano, i say no, i've tasted it between my teeth and it's pepper and besides it's black etc and she basically refused to do anything about it.


tiokiko Mon 27-Sep-10 20:00:39

Look at what Centotre in Edinburgh offer for kids - different priced menu for v young (under 5) and under 10s I think.

Lovely food for wee ones - tasting plate (as PP above suggested) with pasta in butter sauce, pasta in tomato sauce, sauteed spinach and 2 teeny meatballs. Also a smoothie or juice, ice-cream cone (good quality vanilla) and a babycino.

Comes before adults unless you ask otherwise and that really helps.

Probably not as generally child-friendly as PE but the food on offer is brilliant and doesn't feel like a lame option for kids.

freefruit Mon 27-Sep-10 00:29:23

agree the pasta is yuck only had it once never again and wont let the dcs order it!

What was that shrinking the size of the pizzas thing a few years ago? we did notice you know......
agree it can get expensive

2 adults and 5 children ate in our local PE the other week and the bill was over £80, I used to have a 3 course meal there with alcohol for a tenner!!
(am I showing my age? grin)

freefruit Sun 26-Sep-10 23:59:24

oh I have a PE BF story......
was in that part of London known as nappy valley...
it was a wet Tuesday dark about 6 pm
we went in, chairs have high backs I'm a pretty discrete feeder, we ordered so I decided to give dc a quick top up so we could eat without having to feed half way through.

I'm setting the scene here, loads of kids in the area, a short discrete feed from someone who doesn't overexpose, early in the evening...

suddenly there was this screaching and shouting from accross the restaurant. It took me a little while to realise it was a mad old woman who was sitting 2 tables behind me complaining that I was breastfeeding.

Our waitor (who was a youth of about 16!!) blushed redder than red and defended me then came and told me not to worry (I kind of wasn't since it was only then that I realised that she was objecting to someone eating in a restaurant)

anyway I was really impressed that he defended me I'm sure it's not easy for a young man to do so only time anyone has ever objected she was clearly mad she left before we did and shouted and complained her way accross on the way out too!

oh they do parties here too (make your own pizza)

Katisha Sun 26-Sep-10 11:25:55

Unless it has stopped in the last couple of years, I think they already do parties for children. DS1 had one there some years ago where they all made their own pizzas and then ate them.
We brought the birthday cake, but they handed out the (then) usual paper chef hats and colouring/lacing type things.

BettyButterknife Sun 26-Sep-10 11:20:23

1. Child-size cutlery would be brilliant.
2. Is there any way the food could arrive slightly cooled? DS is always famished by the time the pizza arrives, and then has to wait another 10 minutes until it's cool enough to eat.
3. Perhaps a facility where you can call ahead with your order and credit card number, to remove those elements of the process?

florencerose Sun 26-Sep-10 11:06:57

Less salt in their food!! (really important this-salt is major cause of stroke and heart disease and children need to be 'protected' from acquiring a taste for it. I've had meals there that have been almost inedible because of the salt content)

Childrens drinks in plastic cups, ideally with a free refill if knocked over! plus more variety how about milk? I'd also like to see them included on their kids menu and the best kids menus come in at under £5.

For my final one I asked my kids, they came up with adding a playzone, more toppings on the pizza (and my oldest said bigger pizzzas!!) get strawberry icecream have some videos or hand held computer games to use while waiting!!!

Not very demanding my lot!!
Aside from the salt issue we recently went to a fab pizza express (the previous time we had been it was so dreadful I'd avoided it for about 3 years) what made it was the staff they were kind tolerant of children bought the colouring immediately and took them off to help make the ice creams! i can privately tell you which one if it helps they were the best staff I've seen in a restaurant for years!

pinkypanther Wed 22-Sep-10 15:48:50

I'd like to see children's party facilities - not for toddlers but for older children, so special party menu and perhaps a birthday cake or decorated dessert for the birthday child? With party bags etc provided.

Otherwise, wider doors for buggies, buggy parking (think this has all been mentioned), milk/baby food warming facilities.

Mousey84 Wed 22-Sep-10 14:49:39

I havent read everything, and Im not entirely sure if it would work in PE, but a wee local pizza place used to give kids sme bits of pizza dough to make their own shapes with, then baked it for them. Prob some big H&S thing now...but I like the idea still.

JenaiMarrHePlaysGuitar Wed 22-Sep-10 13:45:14

It's a bit remiss of them Aitch, isn't it.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Wed 22-Sep-10 13:03:52

Aitch me too - I would have expected some response by now.

Aitch Wed 22-Sep-10 12:47:29

i'm finding it weird that no-one from PE has had the courtesy to come onto this thread and thank us for our invaluable input. (and apologise for all those many hours of slooooooooooooooow service).

hobbgoblin Wed 22-Sep-10 11:35:24

Service wise:

Patience has to be the most important trait a member of waiting staff can have.

To actively support BF so if other customers get snippy about it they defend the BFer rather than be apologetic to the narky customer.

To be flexible about the menu, so having all veg available with all meals - not salad if you have one thing and veg if you have another, being able to hold the sauce on a pasta dish, that sort of thing. Good for fussy eaters.

Parents being able to order a bit of this and a bit of that without feeling as though you ought to order a main even though you are eating with DH later on.

Scrupulously clean highchairs.

A 'good little customers' charter for the child customers so that other kids are dissuaded from getting down and running about or shrieking excessively with excitement.

The last one is a prescriptively bad idea because pfb parents would HATE it, but I'd love it.

Decent cutlery so that little ones can have proper knived and forks and not plastic, but not oversized for little hands either.

No hot plates.

No hot plates or hot drinks hovering over DC heads ever.

BoffinMum Wed 22-Sep-10 09:52:20

Here we go. My ideal restaurant.

1. Have a person greet you when you come in and seat you before your kids kick off.

2. Have some clean highchairs available, big enough for toddlers as well.

3, Bring courses and the bill promptly.

4. Offer half sizes of everything on the menu, with the addition of an empty plate for toddlers so they can have bits of everyone else's food. Offer milk or tap water to kids if they want something other than a fizzy drink. If people want puree, sell them a sachet of Plum babyfood.

5. Shut other guests up if they complain about breastfeeding or natural toddler restlessness.

6. Make sure the nappy changing table is not too minging.


That's it.

Put in TV screens or lego and I will avoid your pizza chain like the plague. Similarly most of the other things people were suggesting. I want to have a nice pasta and a bit of salad with a glass of Pinot Grigio whilst not being on edge all the time listening to mummies fussing away and other people's children rampaging in critical mass form. Children should fit in with us (in an age specific way), not the other way around.

snice Tue 21-Sep-10 22:38:42

Please God NOT a communal Lego table!

As others have pointed out a lot of us go to PE as its an affordable restaurant experience. If I wanted my children to play with (probably manky) toys and watch TV I'd stay at home.

If you are going to have a children's menu then please put something other than ice cream as a dessert - surely some sort of cake would be possible?

Other than that I wouldn't change much other than to reiterate the plea from many people not to serve small children with drinks in narrow base highball glasses-they will get knocked over at some point.

To those of you asking for free nibbles on arrival, jugs of iced tap water, free baby purees et al I think you are forgetting that this is a profit driven organisation-restaurants make huge profits on drinks for example so the last thing they want to do is remove the potential for that profit. This explains why they are
a)so keen to bring drinks immediately so that you will need another by the time your food arrives, and
b)offer salty thirst making starters such as olives/garlic bread

jugglingact Tue 21-Sep-10 21:22:27

I'd like to see some information card/ learning / discussion card for families while you eat the food For example - pizza comes from Italy; can you find Italy on the map?
The tomatoes on this pizza are grown in .... they take.... so long to grow. Where more exotic toppings are sourced from, so that children feel responsible and interested in not just eating but food consumption, production and the ethics of a food chain. This would give restaurants like Pizza Express a huge edge over other chains. all the suggestions posted are valid - but a good meal is not just about the food, the company and the conversation are equally as vital. promoting discussion, getting people debating and inspired about our world are skills our children would love whilst tucking into a delicious pizza!

CrossWords Tue 21-Sep-10 17:37:57

No tiled floor - this together with the too small highchairs/ no booster seat for big chairs has meant DS has fallen off chair onto floor twice in different PEs

Why not be able to order on line before arriving to speed up process?

Maybe have on the menu a bigger (rectangular?) pizza can order to share with ability to have different toppings on different sections - reduces clutter on table

Yes to other stuff for kids to do, eg communal lego/jigsaw etc table

DinahRod Tue 21-Sep-10 16:14:51

We go to an independent where the dcs watch the pizzas being made from the raised seating, if not busy they are called up to pick their toppings and are occasionally sung to grin Sorry but PE really can't compete.

Last time we went to PE it was very loud acoustically and I wanted a perspex vacuum dome to descend and hermetically seal off the next door table and their banshee child

HughRinal Tue 21-Sep-10 15:48:40

Have a front door that actually opens so you don't have to walk round the back past an open cellar hatch that your toddler nearly falls down - Yes I am looking at YOU ALRESFORD IN HAMPSHIRE BRANCH.

also please ask if kids want their puddings when they have finished, not when the adults have, which is much later by which time everyone is a bit fractious.

I would rather not have children's menus. Just smaller portions of adult ones, priced accordingly.

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