Pizza Express has said it is to reopen all its sites in England, Wales and Scotland on Monday for the first time since Covid hit in March 2020.
The 55-year-old chain has slashed around 2,400 jobs and closed 73 restaurants since the pandemic broke out and revenues were heavily impacted by the closure of hospitality for long periods.
But Pizza Express reopened 143 sites for al fresco dining in April and said last month that it was looking to hire 1,000 new staff members.
And on Wednesday the business shared the upbeat news that 347 of its UK venues - every venue except for those in Northern Ireland which are set to reopen a week later - will reopen on May 17, with the chain throwing in a bottle of Peroni on the house for returning diners to celebrate the landmark day.
Pizza Express managing director, Zoe Bowley, said: “We’re overjoyed that after more than a year since the first lockdown, we will finally be able to have all of our pizzerias in England, Wales and Scotland open to serve customers."
Bowley recommended booking online, but said the chain is open for walk-ins.
The company said that all restaurants will open with heightened hygiene procedures - including a new digital menu and regular staff health checks.
Pizza Express announced in November 2020 that it had completed a major programme designed to secure its long-term financial future. At the time, the chain said the recapitalisation had seen its debt slashed by over £400 million to £319 million, with £40 million of new cash immediately injected into the business.
The chain also recently appointed former Wagamama boss David Campbell as its new chief executive, and former Asda chief Allan Leighton as its new chairman.
To get your free bottle of Peroni or selected soft drink head to the Pizza Express website and download a voucher.