The first Australian Pizza Hut opened in Belfield, Sydney in April 1970. The building (shown here) was most recently a Korean restaurant with the red roof painted green, but in early 2018 was demolished, to be replaced by a mixed-use development. The brand has grown to have around 380 stores in Australia and New Zealand. Pizza Hut is the world’s largest pizza restaurant company with more than 13,000 restaurants in over 97 countries.
Like other giant fast-food chains, Pizza Hut was founded in the USA in the 1950s. In 1958 two brothers, Dan and Frank Carney, borrowed $600 from their mum and set up a small pizza outlet in Wichita, Kansas. They were aggressive marketers, initially giving away free pizza then seeking to franchise the Pizza Hut brand. By 1966, their operation had grown to 145 franchised stores in the USA. The first store outside the USA opened in Canada in 1968. By 1971 it was the world’s largest pizza chain, with more than 1000 stores.
Pizza Hut was acquired by PepsiCo in 1977. PepsiCo’s fast food division became Tricon Global Restaurants, Inc in 1997 and in 2002 was renamed Yum! Brands. Yum! also owns KFC, the American Taco Bell chain and several other fast-food chains.
Pizza Hut originally had mostly eat-in restaurants and offered the famous “all-you-can-eat” option on certain nights of the week. Was it Tuesdays? I really can’t remember. There was a salad bar with salty bacon bits, slices of popular pizza varieties gently cooling on the counter and, to the joy of the kids, the unlimited dessert bar with soft-serve ice cream and a choice of sugary toppings. The restaurants were also licensed, so adults could enjoy a glass of wine or a beer while the kids gorged on sweet stuff.
In Australia, the arrival of Domino’s in 1983 challenged Pizza Hut’s position as the leading chain in Australia. Domino’s initiated the home delivery pizza trade. From the mid-nineties, the eat-in Pizza Huts began to disappear in favour of the shop-front take-aways with home delivery. As of mid-2022, only 13 remain Australia-wide.
Despite merging with Eagle Boys in 2016, today Pizza Hut lags behind Domino’s with around 380 outlets in Australia. Domino’s has close to 600 across Australia and New Zealand. The all-you-can-eat dine-in option has been revived, now called “The Works”. It remains to be seen whether this can boost Pizza Hut’s share in a competitive fast-food market.