The company confirmed the Peterborough-born restaurateur had died on 5 December in a tribute on its website posted the following day.
Boizot founded the chain in 1965, with its first opening on 27 March on Wardour Street in Soho, London as he felt there was nowhere to buy a “proper Italian pizza” in the capital. He was also the first to import Italian beer Peroni to the UK. Today, Pizza Express has over 470 restaurants in Britain and operates across 12 markets globally.
Also a jazz lover, Boizot set up Pizza Express jazz club in 1969 and was the founder and director of the Soho Jazz Festival. He did a lot of charity work and invented the Veneziana pizza, donating a percentage of each one bought. The pizza is still on the Pizza Express menu and donations have now topped the £2m mark.
A statement released by the company said: “On behalf of the Pizza Express family, Peter’s spirit, vision and his passion for good food and good times, will live on and we will continue to carry forward his legacy through the people and culture of our business. We will all miss him dearly. Our thoughts are with his friends and family at this time.”
Zoe Bowley, MD at Pizza Express, added: “It is with great sadness that we announce that Peter Boizot passed away on 5 December 2018. In his 89 years, this remarkable entrepreneur achieved an astonishing amount, not just within the dining industry, but across music, sport, and charity as well.
“He launched a culinary revolution with the first Pizza Express in 1965, introducing delicious pizza and casual dining to the UK, inspired by his travels in Italy. His philanthropic work was renowned, raising £2m for the Venice in Peril fund and he inspired the company to continue this charitable mission.”
She added: “Peter’s spirit and vision to bring great pizza to the UK and beyond, and his passion for good food and good times, will live on. We will miss him dearly. Our thoughts are with his friends and family at this time.”