A leading St Ives restaurateur has hit out at the decision to allow Pizza Express to open in the town.
Onshore owner David Graham fears Pizza Express’ arrival could signal an influx of other national food and drink retailers entering St Ives, which, he fears, could spoil its “unique personality”.
He says his opposition to the Pizza Expresses of the world is not about fear of competition, but instead about preserving the focused ‘think local and buy local’ ethos that, he claims, virtually all of the restaurants, bars and food and drink shops in the town currently have.
“St Ives has developed a wonderful reputation across the UK for being truly unspoiled by mass-market tourism,” Graham said. “As a result this has seen the popularity of the town grow, making it open for business all year round and loved by both UK and overseas visitors alike – even in what are currently economically challenging times.
“Today, the town itself has a truly diverse range of eating and drinking establishments, from small teashops, café’s and takeaway’s, to bars, pubs and restaurants. And whilst we are all competing with each other, the vast majority of us have one very strong thing in common – we use, promote and support our local food and drink suppliers wherever we can.
“I don’t think any of us are frightened of competition – which is borne out by the fact that there are well over 40 restaurants trading in the town every day. But I think you have to ask yourself what value a national chain like Pizza Express is going to bring to St Ives?
“Will Pizza Express be sourcing its ingredients from local suppliers like our restaurants and bars do now? No. What will happen is that its goods will arrive almost daily on a lorry from a national distribution centre, having travelled hundreds of miles to St Ives to service a restaurant that would have been created and fitted by a team of contractors from out of the county and a management team that has been brought in.”