Pizza Hut: Retro Dine-In Stores To Make A Comeback


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Pizza Hut is looking back to the future as it gears up for a bold new move in the nation’s pizza wars. The underdog fast food retailer, which has long trailed behind rival Domino’s, has confirmed its acquisition of the Eagle Boys chain, opening its first rebranded store at Sydney’s Collaroy on Thursday.

It makes Pizza Hut the nation’s second-largest pizza chain in a deal that came after private equity fund Chester Moynihan bought the master franchise from US-based Yum! Brands in September.

And the company is gearing up to wrestle back market share from its archrival with a new strategy focusing on what makes it different — including potentially bringing back the dine-in restaurants Australians grew up with in the 1980s and 1990s.

“It’s all on the table at the moment,” the chain’s new chief executive Lisa Ransom told, recalling her own time as a young customer of Pizza Hut’s all-you-can-eat buffet.

“There’s a great deal of heritage in the brand and we are looking at ways to do things differently. We get a lot of demand for dine-in restaurants and we’ll absolutely be looking at those opportunities moving forward.”

Ms Ransom, one of three former McDonald’s executives brought in by Allegro, said the new team was focused on working out what Pizza Hut customers wanted.

And she said they were “very passionate” about their memories of birthday parties at Pizza Hut restaurants, which were once prolific in Australian suburbs but have now almost disappeared completely.

“They’re looking for us to do some different things and bring back some of the things that they love about the brand,” Ms Ransom said.

There are just 15 dine-in restaurants among more than 270 existing Pizza Hut stores in Australia. The Eagle Boys deal will add 50 more stores to that number in the coming year, expanding the chain’s footprint by reaching into parts of the country where it does not have a presence.

“It’s a significant opportunity to grow the distribution and brand presence of Pizza Hut for our customers and take advantage of the economies of scale that come with being a bigger organisation,” Ms Ransom said.
Pizza Hut will also be rolling out new stores in other areas, with potential to expand its footprint to 400 stores — giving it a bigger slice of the $3.7 billion market.

Not all of the approximately 110 active Eagle Boys stores will come across, with trade zone conflicts preventing Pizza Hut from acquiring stores in places where it already has franchisees. Several of the struggling chain’s stores closed before the deal was signed.

Asked if the potential expansion of Pizza Hut’s dine-in would include the chain’s famous The Works all-you-can eat buffet, Ms Ransom said “we haven’t made that decision yet”, but that the strategy would be based on customer demand.

“There’s a lot of passion from customers to bring back the restaurant,” she said. “We still do have some restaurants but there’s not many anymore and I think there’s still life in that concept.”

Pizza Hut’s last remaining inner-city dine-in, on Sydney’s George St, closed its doors last year — much to the disappointment of buffet fans.

One diehard The Works devotee lamented its loss in a blog post, writing that he had been eating at the establishment since 1987.

Further afield, Pizza Hut Windsor in Sydney’s western suburbs still offers the retro selection of all-you-can eat classics for $20.90: pizza, pasta and salad bars, bottomless postmix Pepsi and, of course, a dessert bar featuring chocolate mousse, jelly cubes, chocolate brownies and apple crumble pizza.

A pivot back to this retro style of dining would put Pizza Huts at odds with its greatest competitor. Domino’s has invested heavily in technology to push its reputation as a digital innovator and slash waiting times, in a strategy that has proven successful; the chain doubled its full year profit to $92 million in the last financial year.

Ms Ransom said the company was focused on “identifying what Pizza Hut customers want from us as opposed to focusing on the competition”, but that she would look to improve digital performance.

“We will continue to improve our digital presence,” Ms Ransom said. “It is an expectation of customers that you do certain things in the digital area; We are a delivery business and we need to improve and embrace digital as part of our consumer interaction. But that’s not the only area in which we need to play.”

As for her own time as a young Pizza Hut diner, she recalled that “as a kid the question was did you fill up on pizza or did you fill up on dessert; It was always the hardest decision that you made.”


  • Victoria: Ballarat, Bendigo, Shepparton
  • Queensland: Browns Plains, Gympie, Kirra, Toowoomba, Townsville
  • New South Wales: Lake Haven, St Andrews, Orange, Parkes, Windsor
  • Tasmania: New Town
  • South Australia: Marion

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