Pizza-geddon! St Albans couple 'shocked' by state of Harpenden Pizza Express ahead of daughter's party
PUBLISHED: 07:00 03 October 2019
A St Albans couple arrived to celebrate their daughter's Pizza Express birthday party only to find the restaurant in a complete mess.
Parents Colin and Gemma Brimson had booked a pizza-making party at the Harpenden branch on Saturday morning to mark their daughter's sixth birthday with 13 other children and their parents.
But when the family arrived, 20 minutes before the party was due to start, they found the restaurant in such a state they were forced to move the party to the pub next door.
Colin said: "Upon arrival we were shocked by the state of the restaurant and the welcome we received. The restaurant was like nothing I had ever seen before and hopefully never will.
"The floor was covered in food, crayons, used napkins and fragments of glass from the night before. Amazingly the tables had been reset with new napkins and cutlery yet every one of them was dirty and clearly not been cleaned.
"The drinks preparation area was flooded with what I can only guess was a leak from the dishwasher, and kitchen ingredients were still lying on the counter in the food preparation area."
As it was too late to cancel or make alternative plans, the couple started to help the stand-in manager clean and tidy the restaurant, but were daunted by the size of the task. Although Colin and Gemma helped to sweep the floor, the tables were still dirty, and the couple claimed "practically every chair" was covered in food stuff.
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Colin said: "The final straw was when my wife went to the toilet. Walking in and seeing the remnants of the day before was the tipping point. When we asked the stand-in manager why the place was in such a mess he said that they always clean up the next morning.
"I find this shocking. Being in a semi-rural area it is amazing the restaurant is not infested with vermin."
The family had chosen the High Street restaurant after having a successful birthday party there for their eldest daughter four years ago, and deciding to repeat the experience with their youngest. They chose the Harpenden branch specifically because they already felt the St Albans restaurant was "filthy' and that the toilets were in a poor state.
After deciding the restaurant was unsuitable, the family moved the party last-minute to the newly-refurbished George of Harpenden pub next door, which Colin described as "incredibly hospitable" and "spotless".
The chef at the George fired up the pizza oven early to provide fresh pizza for the children, and told Colin his team had worked until 3am that day to clear up from the night before.
Colin said: "I am pretty convinced the parents that attended the party will be choosing The George over Pizza Express following this experience."
A Pizza Express spokeswoman said: "We pride ourselves on being able to provide wonderful experiences for our customers. The party had been inadvertently cancelled by us, which meant the team wasn't prepared to welcome Mr Brimson to our usual high standard.
"We're working closely with the teams to ensure there's a robust booking process and correct standards are met so this doesn't happen again."