Little Pizzeria in Wichita Becomes World’s Largest Pizza Restaurant Company Now Delivering “More than Pizza”
DALLAS, May 30 /PRNewswire/ — On May 31, 1958, the doors of a little pizzeria in Wichita, Kansas, opened to serve a thin-crust pizza to a small community. Fifty years later, that pizzeria has grown into a chain of more than 10,000 restaurants around the world serving pizza innovations and more.
This week, Pizza Hut and its franchisees are celebrating 50 years and commemorating the May 31 opening with their annual conference and a special gala in Washington, D.C.
The First Pizza Hut
In 1958, two brothers borrowed $600 from their mother to purchase second-hand equipment and rented a small building on a busy intersection in Wichita. The building had a sign that would only accommodate eight letters (and a space) and since the brothers wanted to use “pizza” in the name that only left room for three letters. A family member suggested the building looked like a hut — and Pizza Hut was born. The little pizzeria became the first Pizza Hut and served 10 and 14-inch pizzas — mostly by carry out.
The following year, the first franchise location opened in Topeka, and today 144 franchisee organizations operate more than 80 percent of Pizza Hut locations in the United States. The entrepreneurial spirit that founded Pizza Hut is the same spirit that drives the company today.
“Something very special happened 50 years ago thanks to the entrepreneurs who believed in that little pizzeria,” said Scott Bergren, president and chief concept officer of Pizza Hut, Inc. “The success of Pizza Hut continues to be driven by the dedicated franchisees that have helped grow this brand to a global company.”
Today, the original Pizza Hut resides on the campus of Wichita State University as it was dedicated to the Center for Entrepreneurship in 1986.
Leader in More Than Pizza
Over the years, Pizza Hut became known for its crust variety and innovative pizza creations. The signature Pan Pizza was introduced in 1980 and the Stuffed Crust Pizza in 1995 – both crusts are extremely popular today. Pizza Hut has also been an “out-of-the-box” leader with its innovations such as Cheesy Bites, The Edge(R) and P’Zone(R) pizzas.
In April, Pizza Hut became the first national pizza chain to deliver restaurant quality pasta with the introduction of its two varieties of Tuscani Pastas. Tuscani Pastas have proven to be a game changing product in the pizza category as the company sold more than 2 million pans of Tuscani Pastas in the first month.
Pizza Hut(R) Remains a Hometown Favorite
The first Pizza Hut television commercial with the “Putt Putt to Pizza Hut,” jingle aired in 1965. The familiar red roof restaurant made its debut in 1969 as the casual dining restaurants began to rapidly expand. By 1971, the company was the number one pizza restaurant chain in the world in both sales and number of restaurants — all with the hometown, casual feel of the original pizzeria.
In addition to filling customers with great tasting pizza, Pizza Hut has also provided countless memories for customers and employees. Stories of post-game celebrations, first dates and wedding proposals have lived on in communities across the country.
“We continue to hear heartwarming stories about how our restaurants have made a difference in people’s lives and communities,” added Bergren. “We’ve had employees meet at Pizza Hut and get married, and we’ve hosted countless celebrations and birthdays over the years. Pizza has an amazing way of bringing people together.”
To explore Pizza Hut’s 50-year history and remember old times, visit http://www.pizzahut.com/ and click on “Our Story.”
About Pizza Hut
As the world’s largest pizza restaurant company with 6,200 restaurants in the United States and more than 4,000 restaurants in 100 other countries, Pizza Hut, Inc., is a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc. (NYSE:YUM) . The company’s 50-year legacy of leadership and innovation has made it the recognized leader in the $37 billion pizza category. Those hungry for more information can go to the official Pizza Hut Website at http://www.pizzahut.com/