This Beloved Pizza Chain Just Shuttered 17 Locations
When major restaurant chains initially closed their dining rooms in mid-March due to the initial spike in coronavirus cases, a lot of them anticipated these closures would be temporary. Unfortunately for the many parent company- and franchise-owned locations, those closures ended up becoming permanent. Pizza Hut is the next popular restaurant chain to join the lineup of businesses that had to say goodbye to a few of its locations.
A franchisee, which Pizza Hut's parent company Yum Brands opted out of naming, never reopened the near-20 locations it closed months ago. (Related: Here's When a New Wave of Restaurant Closures Will Happen, According to Experts)
"As a result of 17 Pizza Hut dine-in restaurants in Western New York initially closing temporarily due to COVID-19 restrictions, the local franchisee made the decision to permanently close these stores," Yum Brands said in a statement sent to Nation's Restaurant News. "However, Pizza Hut has new franchisees coming into the New York region, and we are hopeful we will be able to serve our customers in this area again in the future."
Still, like many restaurants that were struggling financially prior to the pandemic, the mandatory shutdown only escalated their losses. In fact, in August 2019, Yum Brands announced that it would close 500 locations in the U.S. over the next two years. The initial plan was to close locations that were underperforming in sales and replace them with modern express stores.
"We are leaning in to accelerate the transition of our Pizza Hut U.S. asset base to truly modern delivery carryout assets," Yum Brands CEO David Gibbs (former chief operating officer) said to NRN last year.
In the age of COVID-19, integrating more express-oriented locations may be the key to survival. Starbucks also recently announced it would close up to 400 locations over the next year and a half and replace them with pickup-only stores to better serve on-the-go customers.