Pizza Hut is a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc. (the world's largest restaurant company) with approximately 34,000 restaurants, delivery/carry-out locations, and kiosks in 100 countries.
Currently based in Addison, Texas (a northern suburb of Dallas), Pizza Hut is relocating its headquarters to Legacy Office Park in nearby Plano when the lease on its current building, which it has occupied since 1995, expires at the end of 2010.
Pizza Hut is split into several different restaurant formats; the original family-style dine-in locations; store front delivery and carry-out locations; and hybrid locations that offer carry-out, delivery, and dine-in options. Many full-size Pizza Hut locations offer lunch buffet, with "all-you-can-eat" pizza, salad, bread sticks, and a special pasta. Additionally, Pizza Hut also has a number of other business concepts that are different from the store type; Pizza Hut "Bistro" locations are "Red Roof"s which offer an expanded menu and slightly more upscale options.
Traditionally, Pizza Hut has been known for its ambiance as much as food offerings. Classic "Red Roof" locations can be found throughout the United States, and quite a few exist in the UK and Australia. Even so, many such locations offer delivery/carryout service. This building style was common in the 1960s and 1970s. The name "Red Roof" is somewhat anachronistic now, since many locations have brown roofs; dozens of these locations have closed or been relocated/rebuilt. In the 1980s, the company moved into other successful formats including delivery/carryout and the fast food "Express" model.
Finally, "Pizza Hut Express" and "The Hut" locations are fast food restaurants. They offer a limited menu with many products not found at traditional Pizza Huts. These type of stores are often paired in a colocated location with a sibling brand such as Wing Street, KFC or Taco Bell, and are also found on college campuses, food courts, theme parks, and in stores such as Target.
Pizza Hut was founded in 1958 by brothers Dan and Frank Carney in their hometown of Wichita, Kansas. When a friend suggested opening a pizza parlor, they agreed that the idea could prove successful, and they borrowed $600 from their mother to start a business with partner John Bender. Renting a small building at 503 South Bluff in downtown Wichita and purchasing secondhand equipment to make pizzas, the Carneys and Bender opened the first "Pizza Hut" restaurant; on opening night, they gave pizza away to encourage community interest. They chose the name "Pizza Hut" since the sign they purchased only had enough space for nine characters and spaces. Additional restaurants were opened, with the first franchise unit opening in 1959 in Topeka, Kansas. The original Pizza Hut building was later relocated to the Wichita State University campus.
Dan and Frank Carney soon decided that they needed to have a good standard image. The Carney brothers contacted Wichita architect Richard D. Burke, who designed the distinctive mansard roof shape and standardized layout, hoping to counter competition from Shakey's Pizza, a chain that was expanding on the west coast. The franchise network continued to grow through friends and business associates, and by 1964 a unique standardized building appearance and layout was established for franchised and company-owned stores, creating a universal look that customers easily recognized.
By 1972, with 314 stores nationwide, Pizza Hut went public on the New York Stock Exchange under the stock ticker symbol NYSE: PIZ. In 1978, Pizza Hut was acquired by Pepsico, who later also bought KFC and Taco Bell. In 1997, the three restaurant chains were spun off into Tricon, and in 2001 joined with Long John Silver's and A&W Restaurants to become Yum! Brands. The oldest continuously operating Pizza Hut in the world is in Manhattan, Kansas, in a shopping and tavern district known as Aggieville near Kansas State University.
On April 1, 2008, Pizza Hut in America sent emails to customers advertising that they now offer pasta items on their menu. The email (and similar advertising on the company's website) stated "Pasta so good, we changed our name to Pasta Hut!" The name change was a publicity stunt held in conjunction with April Fools' Day, extending through the month of April, with the company's Dallas headquarters changing its exterior logo to Pasta Hut. This name change was also used to promote the new Tuscani Pasta line and new Pizza Hut dine-in menu. The first Pasta Hut advertisement has the original Pizza Hut restaurant being imploded, and recreated with a sign saying "Pasta Hut" placed on the building.
In the United Kingdom, Pizza Hut announced it would be changing its name to Pasta Hut in October 2008, 6 months after the US 'April Fool' trial. This was announced as being a temporary name change to reflect the chain's new emphasis on healthier foods On January 19, 2009, Pizza Hut announced that the Pasta Hut trial had ended and that the names of all stores previously converted to Pasta Hut would be converted back to Pizza Hut, following an online poll in which 81% chose to keep the Pizza Hut name.
In Costa Rica, aside from the Pizza Hut restaurants, there is another brand called "PHD - Pizza Delivered Hot by Pizza Hut." This brand is only for food courts at malls and for express delivery. This was created to compete on the "fast food" market while restaurants will concentrate in casual food.
In Southeast Asia, aside from Pizza Hut restaurants, there is a subsidiary brand called "PHD - Pizza Delivered Hot by Pizza Hut," only for food courts at malls and for express delivery. Pizza varieties are changed to suit local tastes; pasta products with similarly Asian taste is only sold in Indonesia.
* In the early 1990s, as part of PepsiCo's sponsorship of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer (and its former moniker, The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour), Pizza Hut was included in the acknowledgment alongside Taco Bell and KFC, which PepsiCo owned at the time.
* In 2000, Pizza Hut was a part-time sponsor of Galaxy Motorsports' #75 Ford in the then NASCAR Winston Cup Series, driven by Wally Dallenbach Jr.
* Pizza Hut was the shirt sponsor of English football club Fulham F.C. for the 2001–02 season.
* Terry Labonte drove selected events with Pizza Hut as the primary sponsor of his #44 car in 2005.
* Pizza Hut purchased the naming rights to Major League Soccer club FC Dallas' stadium, Pizza Hut Park, prior to its opening in 2005.
* In March 2007, Pizza Hut partnered with Verizon Wireless to offer a free LG mobile phone with the purchase of a Cheesy Bites Pizza.
* Pizza Hut is a sponsor of the Newcastle Vipers ice hockey team for the 2007/08 EIHL season in the UK.
* Pizza Hut is a sponsor of Children's Joy Foundation In The Philippines.
* Pizza Hut Japan sponsored the anime Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion, with their mascot, Cheese-kun, making cameos throughout the series.
Pizza Hut has been a longtime sponsor of the "Book It!" program (started in 1984), which encourages reading in American schools. Those who read books according to the goal set by the classroom teacher are rewarded with Pizza Hut coupons good for a free Personal Pan Pizza or discounted menu items. In the late 1980s, Pizza Hut threw free pizza parties for classes if all students met their reading goals. The program has been criticized by some psychologists on the grounds that it may lead to overjustification and reduce children's intrinsic interest in reading. However, a study of the Pizza Hut program, Book It!, found that participation in the program neither increased nor decreased reading motivation. The program's 25th anniversary was in 2009.