Local Pizza Hut operator calls dine-in restaurants ‘iconic’ to the brand

‘We will work to maintain dine-in where possible,’ spokeswoman for Dayton-area franchisee says

It appears the local Pizza Hut franchisee may have a slightly different take than its corporate parent when it comes to the future of dine-in restaurants.

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Several news outlets reported earlier this week that Pizza Hut is closing hundreds of its dine-in restaurants to focus more on carryout-and-delivery-only shops. In some cases, dine-in stores would be replaced by carryout/deliver shops.

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Today reported that, according to an Aug. 1 company earnings call to discuss second-quarter results, about 500 locations of Pizza Hut will close. According to Yum! Brands, Pizza Hut's parent company, there are 7,496 restaurants in the United States.

"We are excited about collaborating with franchisees who are capable, well-capitalized, committed to the brand and who have a growth mindset to accelerate the closure of under-performing dine-in stores and replacement with new delivery or fast casual delivery assets," Greg Creed, chief executive officer for Yum! Brands, said during the earnings call, according to Food Business News.

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But a spokeswoman for Stow, Ohio-based Pizza Hut franchisee Hallrich Inc., which operates Dayton-area Pizza Hut stores, said dine-in restaurants are “iconic” to the Pizza Hut brand.

“We (Hallrich) will work to maintain dine-in where possible,” the spokeswoman said.

There are nine Pizza Hut locations in the greater Dayton market that have a dining room, she said.

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The Hallrich spokeswoman also said the dine-in “closings” referred to in many of this week’s media stories “in most cases means a delivery-carryout location will open in its place — maybe in the same location or perhaps on the other side of town if population/traffic patterns have changed, and quite possibly, a dining room will remain ... depending on the trade area/community and current dine-in sales.”

Hallrich has been expanding Pizza Hut’s footprint across the Dayton area in recent months. In addition to opening new Kettering and Beavercreek stores, it added a location in a former Family Video store on Wayne Avenue late last year to serve downtown Dayton and the University of Dayton area. It closed one Beavercreek location that was between newly opened Kettering and Beavercreek shops.

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Hallrich purchased the rights to operate Pizza Hut restaurants in the greater Dayton market from the Pizza Hut corporate company in June 2017. With the addition of Montgomery, Clark, Greene, Warren, Darke, Logan and Champaign counties, Hallrich now operates about two-thirds of the Pizza Hut restaurants in Ohio, the franchisee’s spokeswoman said.

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The new Pizza Hut locations join an already competitive Dayton-area pizza market, which has long been dominated by venerable hometown chains such as Cassano’s Pizza King and Marion’s Piazza; by other national chains such as Domino’s, Little Caesar’s and Papa John’s; and by the dozens of smaller chains and single-store independents that call the Miami Valley home.

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In recent years, other smaller, mostly regional chains have invaded those established market players’ turf, including LaRosa’s, Godfather’s, Dewey’s and Jet’s, among others.

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More recently, “fast-casual” pizza chains that focus on customized, fast-baked pizzas have added a new layer of competition. Kettering-based Rapid Fired Pizza has led that surge locally, and Seattle-based MOD Pizza operates two Dayton-area restaurants. A third competitor, Cleveland-based PizzaFire shut down its only Dayton-area location late last year. LaRosa’s also has closed two of its Dayton-area locations since late 2016.

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