American Restaurateur Bob Payton Killed In Car Accident
LONDON (AP) _ Bob Payton, the American who brought deep dish pizza to Britain and opened up 30 restaurants around the world, is dead at age 50.
Stephen Gee, a former colleague of Payton’s, said he was killed Wednesday night when his car went off the road near Stevenage, 28 miles north of London.
Stevenage police said Thursday that Payton’s grey Range Rover hit a large highway sign and overturned. The police spokesman said they were investigating what caused the car to veer off the road.
Payton was born in Miami and attended the University of North Carolina. He got an MBA from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and went to work for the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency.
The agency transferred him in 1973 to London, where he opened his first restaurant, The Chicago Pizza Pie Factory in 1977.
″He loved living in London but what he thought London needed was a Chicago style deep dish pizza. He missed eating them so he opened the restaurant,″ said Gee, who worked with Payton for 17 years.
In 1982 Payton opened the Chicago Rib Shack. More restaurants followed until Payton had 30 restaurants in cities including London, Paris, Tel Aviv, Buenos Aires, Brussels and Barcelona.
His company, My Kinda Town, went public in May and Payton sold his interest to focus on Stapleford Park, a 16th century country-house hotel where he lived near Melton Mowbray, 90 miles north of London.
Payton is survived by his wife, mother and brother.