· The first ever supermarket pizza counter celebrates 30 year anniversary
· Mrs Margherita, Karen Turner from Clifton, still serving since opening day
· One millionth pizza – ham & pineapple – is Nottingham’s favourite and even Stuart Pearce has bought one
Nottingham’s West Bridgford Asda store is celebrating a unique anniversary with 30 candles on top of a PIZZA to mark the UK’s oldest supermarket pizza counter.
And, Asda colleague Karen Turner, 58, who has worked on the pizza counter since it was first introduced at the store in 1986, created the landmark one millionth pizza.
Originally from Clifton, Karen has worked at Asda’s West Bridgford store in Nottingham since 1975.
Born in the summer of 1927, Jean has one daughter who lives in Australia along with her two grandchildren.
She has worked on the pizza counter since it was introduced in Asda store in 1986, serving hungry Nottingham shoppers with freshly made pizzas ever since.
Over the course of 30 years, Karen says she has noticed a change in what people want on their pizzas and how the store prepares them in response to this trend.
Karen said: “Back in the 1980s, customers wanted a simple pizza with cheese and tomato, maybe with just ham or if they felt daring, with mushrooms too.
“Things have changed quite a lot since and we are now seeing customers being much more adventurous with their toppings, for example spicy beef and pineapple with chillies and chilli cheese is a big favourite around these parts now!
“There are also more choices when it comes to bases now and stuffed crust is the current trend, along with dips to dunk it in.
“Everyone is always shocked when I say I love eating pizza – because how can someone who makes pizzas every day for three decades still like them? I always say in response, what is there not to like about a freshly made ham and pineapple pizza?”
Karen and her team prepare over 33,000 pizzas each and every year and the store’s one millionth pizza, fittingly, was Nottingham’s favourite, ham and pineapple.
Karen adds: “I love seeing the same faces week in week out at the pizza counter; if certain customers don’t come in, I get worried as I know that some customers just love our pizzas.
"Everyone asks what the secret to making a fantastic pizza is and the answer is that keeping it simple with a rich tomato sauce on a light base, combined with a mix of cheeses is a winner – and of course - it goes with any topping.
“Each customer has their own favourite and we must be doing something right because despite all the pizza takeaways and restaurants on offer, it feels like the pizza counter here is just as popular today than I’ve ever known.
“We are always busiest at the weekends when Forest or County are at home – and I’ve even served Mr Nottingham Forest himself, Stuart Pearce, at the counter; he is the most famous customer we’ve served and he went for what is still probably our most popular topping, ham and pineapple!”
TOP FIVE MOST POPULAR PIZZA TOPPINGS IN NOTTINGHAM SINCE 1986
1. Ham and Pineapple (aka ‘Hawaiian’)
3. Cheese and tomato (aka ‘Margherita’)
4. Veggie Supreme (no meat)
5. Meat feast
Tony Brennan, general store manager at Asda Bridgford, said: “This is unique anniversary and just goes to show that if you do something simple very well, it’ll be a big success – 30 years and still going strong proves it, too.”
“It’s fitting that Karen madde the landmark one millionth pizza - she is much loved by all her colleagues; she always has a smile and will help anyone. Our customers love Karen just as much as the pizzas she makes and some even ask for her by name.”