Students Speak: Thoughts on the removal of the Pizza Hut

Design by Rishabh Datta

Recently, the Pizza Hut in the Student Center has closed. The iconic restaurant chain has over 6,000 locations within the United States, yet seems to have made very little impact on the student body during and after its life on campus.

This Pizza Hut in the Student Center was very unique: “I know that it was the only Pizza Hut that served Coca-Cola products,” said Richard Sinz, first-year CEE. Pizza Hut is contracted to Pepsi, but because of Coca-Cola’s dominance in the city of Atlanta and influence on Tech, the restaurant is required to serve Coke products.

Unfortunately, not even Coca-Cola could save the restaurant from closing its doors on campus. “I personally never ate there. It seemed like it was not very popular, so I guess it’s a good thing that it closed,” observed Tejas Khorana, third-year CS. Although Khorana does not have a personal opinion on the food, his observation is very telling. The lack of business at the unpopular Pizza Hut would surely have forced the chain to close its doors. In that case, it indeed would be the best solution for both students and Pizza Hut. The closing would save Pizza Hut the cost of keeping the chain running, and students can now hope for a new restaurant in its place.

The lack of sentiment for Pizza Hut’s closing was shared by many students at Tech. “It’s all right because Ray’s is upstairs,” noted Michael, third-year ME. With the vast array of food available at the Student Center, there would not have been enough business for two pizza-centered restaurants.

Pizza Hut’s decline on campus also coincides with a brief but dramatic drop in the corporation’s overall performances. Yum! Brands Inc., who owns Pizza Hut, has reported steady increases in profit for the past few years, until autumn of 2014, when the company’s profit margins dropped from around 12 percent to -2 percent. The causes of the drop are undetermined, but Yum! Brands Inc. has since bounced back considerably, returning to a profit margin of around seven percent this summer. Pizza Hut itself has also been boosting its marketing very aggressively. Recently, the franchise has become the official College GameDay sponsor. To increase their popularity, they gave away 10,000 free pizzas on the opening day of the college football season to appeal to football fans. This move is the beginning of Pizza Hut’s attempts at bouncing back, but is unfortunately too late to salvage any business from Tech’s campus.

In the end, Pizza Hut’s exit from the Student Center was both inevitable and unceremonious. With the wide selection of food already available, its not that hard to see one go.

Now, students are starting to dream of all the things that could replace Pizza Hut. “Will they replace it with Chipotle?” ponders a hopeful Matthew Leipner, second-year ChBE. For now, the closing has hardly caused a stir; however, all could change if a new restaurant chain takes its place.