Birthday parties at Pizza Hut may soon be a thing of the past.
One of America's biggest pizza chains is planning to close hundreds of its dine-in restaurants across the country as it shifts its focus to growing its carryout and delivery businesses.
There are currently 7,496 Pizza Hut restaurants in the United States, according to Yum! Brands, the parent company of Pizza Hut. The change will affect about 500 locations so Pizza Hut expects that number may drop to 7,000 in the next 24 months as the company closes underperforming restaurants.
“Pizza Hut continues to develop tailored action plans for our largest dine-in markets, while at the same time transforming the estate for a more compelling off-premise focused asset strategy,” Greg Creed, CEO of Yum! Brands, said during the company's earnings call on August 1.
Yum! Brands also owns Taco Bell and KFC.
The shift away from focusing resources on sit-down eateries comes as many chain restaurants have been forced to battle with both the competitive prices at fast-food giants, as well as fast-casual eateries that often serve healthier fare.
In 2017, Applebee's parent company Dine Equity announced it expected to close between 105 and 135 restaurants across the country, while IHOP (which has the same parent company) planned to close between 20 and 25 locations — but that was before the controversial, yet temporary, name change to IHOB.
Pizza Hut operates 6,100 traditional restaurants in the U.S., while the remaining 1,350 are express stores. While the closures will slash its overall number, the pizza company is still raking in the dough.
Same store sales were up 2%, according to the company's most recent earnings report. Pizza Hut is currently operating 18,515 stores worldwide, compared to the 16,823 that were open this time last year.