My Favourite Price… FREE! Pizza, That Is.

As you’ll know, here at UKS we like to review and promote local, owner-run businesses where possible. So how does a franchise fit it?

Well, it’s still owned by (usually) a local person, it’s just that they’ve decided to operate under the wing of a larger organisation to which they pay a fee in order to benefit from their support with set-up, running, marketing, etc.  And the fee can be quite hefty, so it’s quite the commitment.

The upside, for the customer, should be that we can visit one of any branded establishments – anywhere in the country – and have the same experience.  Some people just like to know what they’re in for while others like a sense of adventure and don’t mind being disappointed occasionally if their choice doesn’t work out.

That’s not to say that visiting a franchised establishment is all sweetness and light.  I once visited our local Pizza Express to find my favourite item was off the menu that day because they’d ran out of avocados by lunchtime.  When I suggested they send someone out to Waitrose, a few yards away, I was informed they couldn’t as their ingredients were all despatched from head office.  An upside because the franchisee doesn’t have to bother shopping for the ingredients, but a downside when you’re so restricted that you can’t use your initiative!

Anyway, all that aside, last Friday was National Pizza Day and Pizza Express, as a brand, ran a fun promotion.  I was informed of it when an email landed in my inbox – yes, you can subscribe to keep abreast of such things – letting me know that if I turned up at any Pizza Express on the day wearing a stripey top (their uniform) I could claim a free Margherita pizza.

Well, my favourite price is FREE!  And it being a Friday, and being as I had some items to drop at a charity shop, and being as I needed to pick up some fresh veg, I thought it would be rude not to accept their offer.

Look! I’m Number One!

The tricky thing was that there were only a certain number available, so I made sure I was banging the door down when they opened at 11:30am.  Actually, that’s a lie.  I went in at 11:10am and was invited to sit at my table waiting until 11:30am before they could serve me.  No problem, I don’t go anywhere without a book, so I sat down, revealed my stripey top, staking a claim to my freebie and waited.

If you’ve read my article about Kiki Dee, you’ll know that I rather enjoy a trip to Pizza Express Live in London (link to Sussex – I catch the train from here), so I am quite partial to their food.  I don’t know whether it was due to being free or that the Chef was fresh on the job and took extra pride in his first produce of the day, or that the dough was just right, but this pizza was the best I’d had at Pizza Express in Uckfield.

And I did need something wet to help wash down the food so I enjoyed a nice, cold glass of my favourite Pinot Grigio Blush.  Purely to support this local business, you understand.

I did wonder whether the people in my local town would embrace the offer or would they think it beneath them to be eating for free.  I’m delighted to report that when I left, there were at least 5 tables seating customers sporting stripey tops of one form or another.

Proud of you, Uckfield.


  • Maria Bligh

    Maria Bligh is a journalist, published author, professional speaker, singer and artist now settled in Sussex, UK, having previously travelled extensively throughout the UK and overseas, including a period living in Geneva. Married to a successful musician and with a background that encompasses working in the music industry, finance, sales and presentations training, she maintains a diverse existence. Her interests encompass travel, nature, animals and the arts: music, theatre, painting, writing and philosophy. Maria now writes for online and print magazines. Having once maintained a regular full page in “A Place In The Sun” magazine, travel is an obvious interest, but her articles also cover a wide variety of subjects. She bills herself as “an observer of the human condition and all that sail in her.” Maria has frequently appeared on radio & TV as well as in print. Her humorous style has seen her travel the world addressing audiences throughout Europe, Asia and Australasia and as a cruise-ship speaker with P&O and Fred Olsen.

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