Pizza Hut Closing 500 Locations

Pizza Hut lives fondly in the memories of '80s and '90s geeks everywhere. It was more than just a neighborhood Pizza restaurant, or prime birthday party spot - it was a place where a lot of us got our first start playing arcade video games (shoutout to Double Dragon!), and is forever tied to some of our favorite movie experiences (shoutout to Back to the Future II!)

Well, it's sad (yet inevitable) to report that now Pizza Hut is seeing its time fade away, as it's being reported that the restaurant chain is closing doors on 500 hundred locations around the country.

As Today reports, Pizza Hut currently has 7,496 locations in operation, which is plans to boil down to approximately 7,000 in the next two years. Clearly, the move is intended to ward off losses from underperforming locations - but it's somewhat amusing to hear the flowery explanation of that bleak reality from the CEO of Pizza Hut's parent company, Yum! Brands, Greg Creed:

“Pizza Hut continues to develop tailored action plans for our largest dine-in markets, while at the same time transforming the estate for a more compelling off-premise focused asset strategy."

Ironically enough, Pizza Hut's worldwide performance is still doing well. Same store sales are actually up 2%, while the chain currently has over 18 thousands stores operating worldwide - up from just under 17 thousand this same time last year.

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As for why US stores may be underperforming? Today cites changing attitudes in the food market for being responsible for chains like Pizza Hut (as well as Yum! Brands' other chains like Taco Bell and KFC) losing consumer interest. Of course there's probably more to the story within the lane of Pizza-focused restaurants themsevles. These days, chains like Dominoes and Little Cesar's have shifted to quick-and-convenient service models, which allow diners instant fast-food-style service and/or easy digital ordering platforms. The other side of that coin are the rise of "gourmet" or "craft" pizza restaurants, which seem to be the favored form of dine-in experience for pizza, these days. Pizza Hut, unfortunately, falls right through the cracks of those two new shores, with its formulaic pizza and slow, sit-down service. Just another sign of changing times, and what inevitably gets left behind.

Still, we'll always have Back to the Future II's dream of a future in which we have this version of Pizza Hut: