Dearest Pizza Express,
I have known and loved you all my life, so wanted to offer my advice and condolences at this tough time.
My earliest and fondest ever memories of eating out, were at your Kingston-Upon-Thames branch. So enamoured was I with your Margherita (hold the oregano) and doughballs (extra garlic butter) that eventually our waiter, Oliver, would put it through as ‘The Usual’. I was seven at the time. That is service and a half, and if I had the inclination to spend my pocket money on a cash tip, I would have handed it over gladly. (But that was my dad’s job and anyway, I had glitter-stickers to buy at the stationers).
Ten or so years later and I stepped up to the plate to become Waitress of the Cobham branch, then a few years later, Bristol Coin Street while I was at university. I killed it. The cash tips would weigh my little black apron down to the point I had to offload them into my locker half way through my shift. You know why? Because EVERYBODY loves Pizza Express. As long as there are delicious, thin crust, hand made Pizza Express Pizzas, there will be very happy customers, enjoying their easy, no frills meal, and those customers are generally happy to leave some extra pounds in the bill tray. Particularly if you smile at them at all times.
So the new Big Dogs want to charge an admin fee of 8% on card payment gratuity. It’s not ideal guys, but I think of your chocolate fudge cake, hot, with ice cream, and I assume you must know what you’re doing.
I’m concerned that the hard working waiters and waitresses will lose on average £3 per shift in tips, but I’m more concerned with how the tips will be affected if the boycott petition plan gets misunderstood and less customers go to Pizza Express to leave their tips in the first place. And how are the tips going to be affected if the staff stops smiling because they’re upset about their tip deduction?
So how can we keep them smiling? Remind your staff of how much they love the pizza deliciousness on their lunch breaks – five years I worked there and I never got bored of that taste. Remind them that it’s a brilliant place to work because the plates aren’t too heavy or hot and the menu is pretty easy to memorize since it is largely pizza based. Also that Café Rouge, Bella Italia, Belgo, Strada and Giraffe deduct 10% of their card tips.
Maybe you could make the small print that explains this deduction a little bigger on the bottom of your menus, then people like me would notice it, remember what it takes to be a waitress and reward my server with a cash tip so they get all of it, my choice.
Maybe staff compensation in the form of a free slice of £4.95 chocolate fudge cake wouldn’t go amiss either. Hot. With ice cream.
Sophie 'Fiorentina' Beresiner