WORK has begun on converting an empty shop into Blackpool’s newest eaterie.
Pizza Express is hoping its restaurant on the corner of Church Street and St John’s Square will be open by September.
It will be the latest investment in the town centre dining scene following on from the arrivals of Nando’s at the other end of Church Street, and Heathcotes which now has two outlets in the Winter Gardens.
Work has begun inside the building which already has planning permission for conversion from retail use to restaurant use, while a planning application has been submitted for a new shopfront and signage.
A spokeswoman for Pizza Express said: “We are looking forward to opening in Blackpool and welcoming customers to our new restaurant.
“We are hoping to open in September.”
The premises was previously occupied by Next until the fashion store relocated to the Houndshill Centre, while in more recent times a discount store has operated out of the venue.
Blackpool town centre manager Eileen Ormand said: “This is great news because it will draw people into that part of the town centre.
“We have Nando’s at the bottom of Church Street and now Pizza Express coming to the top end, and that means we will have people moving around the different areas.
“That area is also benefitting from regeneration work at the Winter Gardens.”
Natalie Wyatt, head of VisitBlackpool, also welcomed the investment.
She said: “We have got lots of independent cafes and restaurants which are really good but when you bring in a brand as well, that is a great addition to what is being offered in Blackpool.
“Pizza Express is a brand which appeals to our audience which is families, and it is also a channel for further marketing of the town as a whole.”
It is proposed the new shopfront will comprise of new glazing and aluminimum cladding.
Pizza Express already has a restaurant in Lytham.