Ramsgate’s former Pizza Express to get a new lease of life as Travellers in Italy restaurant

The former Pizza Express building

The former Pizza Express building on Ramsgate seafront has been taken over by Royal Harbour Hotel/Empire Room and Little Ships restaurant owner James Thomas.

The pizza venue on Harbour Street was one of 73 shut down by the chain last year amid the pandemic.

But now it is set to have a new lease of life and a new name – Travellers in Italy.

James said: “We are very pleased to announce that we have taken on the lease of the ex Pizza Express site here in Ramsgate.

How it looked inside as Pizza Express

“Formally a bank, it’s an iconic Ramsgate building and sits proudly next to our current restaurant, Little Ships, right on Ramsgate’s Royal Harbour. It will be called Travellers in Italy – we inherited a pizza oven!

“It  will allow us to offer another restaurant experience to our guests at the Royal Harbour Hotel and to our visitors and customers who know us well through the Empire Room – currently with a pop up Hearth@theEmpireRoom – and Little Ships.”

Travellers in Italy is named after a picture James bought many years ago by late Ramsgate artist Michael Blaker.

James said: “At the time I had no connection with Ramsgate and so you can imagine my surprise and delight when I moved here in 1999 to find out that he lived here.”

The new restaurant is the latest venture for James who bought a former b&b which is now The Royal Harbour Hotel in 1999.

Since then the Royal Harbour Hotel has expanded into adjoining properties on Nelson Terrace and in 2014, the ‘Empire Room’ restaurant also opened in the property.

Owner James and executive chef Craig at the Little Ships

Further expansion came with the opening of the Little Ships restaurant on Harbour Parade in 2018 with head chef Craig Mather. The Little Ships’ name plays tribute to the flotilla of privately owned boats used to help evacuate stranded British troops from the Dunkirk beaches in 1940.  It also refers to Thanet local trawlers, which supply the fresh fish cooked in the restaurants. In 2019 the venue was named winner of the Best Breakfast Venue at the LUXlife Magazine Restaurant & Bar Awards.

Travellers in Italy is expected to open in mid August.


  1. Great news and another iconic building that will now have a new lease of life and offer more choice to residents and visitors of Ramsgate alike. Well done James.

  2. Can James take over The Granville so TDC don’t leave it rotting away until it’s worthless and only worth knocking down, or used as a youth/arts club and excludes everyone else from using it.

    • I Hope its more welcoming than the Little Ships. Loved the Empire Rooms. But I am fed up that everytime I visit LS, if feel that they think that they feel that they are doing me a favour serving me.

    • The plans for the Granville as a theatre, restaurant, workshops etc. Sound fabulous , will be great for the area. It’s not all about restaurants. Lovely fir the kids to have somewhere else to go

  3. Hope it doesn’t end up like the prices in Little ship as we loved and often ate in there but prices now are just to high and certainly overpriced. Shame as local pensioners it is now out priced . I think greed is the word.

  4. I certainly do think prices in this new restaurant should be kept in the upper registers. I certainly don’t want spoilt poorly brought up “benefit street” brats running around my table because the price is, well, cheap.

  5. So it has to be expensive because there is no brats from nice well to do families. But I suppose if you think £17 for a normal breakfast is reasonable than enjoy you own world out of reality.

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