Red booths, vintage light fixtures and the self-serve buffet bar will become things of the past for some Pizza Hut stores as the country’s No. 2 pizza chain looks to close as many as 500 older dine-in locations throughout the United States.
Around 6,100 Pizza Hut locations are traditional restaurants, with 1,350 locations set up for express dining. The U.S. total store count could drop to as low as 7,000 over the next two years as the chain closes underperforming dine-in restaurants, according to Food Business News.
The plan is to replace the dining locations with modern delivery and carry-out units, perhaps similar to the location outfitted with digital cubbies in Hollywood, California. “We are leaning in to accelerate the transition of our Pizza Hut U.S. asset base to truly modern delivery/carryout assets,” Yum! Brands president and CEO David Gibbs told investors in an August 1 earnings call. “This will ultimately strengthen the Pizza Hut business in the U.S. and set it up for a faster long-term growth.”
“But as far as the numbers go and how the math works, it’s hard to estimate … when a store will close and then when the replaced unit will open. There will be gaps (for) some of those, but certainly our goal is to try to minimize those gaps,” Gibbs added.
Yum! Brands’ other restaurants, KFC and Taco Bell, will focus on delivery as well. KFC partnered with GrubHub to offer delivery through 2,300 units, and Taco Bell now delivers out of 4,500 locations.