Legal wrangling between Pizza Hut and one of its major franchisees, EYM Group, has apparently led to the shutdown of more than a dozen locations in Indiana, with breach-of-contract accusations flying back and forth between the two companies.

EYM Group owns and operates 142 Pizza Hut restaurants in Indiana, Illinois, Georgia, South Carolina and Wisconsin. Pizza Hut has reportedly accused the company of defaulting on millions of dollars in payments and abruptly closed 15 stores in Northwest Indiana, along with four others in Central Ohio, on Friday, June 14.

EYM Group’s franchise agreement doesn’t include the state of Ohio, suggesting those Pizza Hut store closures aren’t related to the legal feud.

Related: What’s your pizzeria’s pain point? Get solutions from the experts at PMQ’s Pizza Power Forum.

The Times of Northwest Indiana first reported on the Indiana closures after spotting social media posts from employees at the shuttered restaurants.

EYM Group filed a lawsuit against Pizza Hut for breach of contract in March 2023. The New York Post says EYM Group has accused Pizza Hut of failing to modernize its menu and its digital ordering system.

In June 2024, Pizza Hut launched a countersuit, claiming EYM Group violated its franchise agreement by failing to make required payments. EYM Group owed Pizza Hut $3 million in late 2022 and $2.6 million in 2023, according to court documents reviewed by Nation’s Restaurant News (NRN).

Instead of terminating the franchise agreement, Pizza Hut entered into a forbearance agreement with EYM Group after multiple defaults, NRN reports.

In a media statement, Pizza Hut said, “While some local franchisee-operated restaurants have temporarily closed, Pizza Hut remains committed to providing outstanding service and products to our valued customers. The company is working to transition these locations and expects many of them will reopen soon.”

As for modernizing its menu, Pizza Hut did just that this week, announcing that it has added a variety of new artisanal toppings and sauces to its permanent menu nationwide while rolling out the first-ever Chicago-style tavern pizza offered by a global pizza chain.

That move, touted by Pizza Hut as the dawn of a “fresh era,” comes under the leadership of Rachel Antalek, the brand’s new chief food innovation officer.

“These menu additions represent a bold step forward as part of our culinary mission to bring our guests modern innovation that embraces what we know our customers are loving and looking for in a pizza,” Antalek said.

Founded in 2008, EYM Group is a multi-brand franchisee affiliated with Denny’s, KFC and Panera Bread as well as Pizza Hut.

Pizza News