Pizza Hut Inc. will invest $10 million in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, La., within the next 18 months. The plan includes the creation of “Model Markets” in partnership with the National Urban League and the Urban League of Greater New Orleans, including state-of-the-art restaurants that serve the communities.
The plan’s objective is to establish urban renewal and economic empowerment to both cities.
“Pizza Hut is totally committed to making our restaurants in New Orleans and Baton Rouge the best in the country. We will build brand new restaurants over the next 18 months, replacing all existing restaurants with state of the art facilities to best serve our customers," said Scott Bergren, president of Pizza Hut. "We are very pleased to partner with the National Urban League and believe our investment is both good business, and will stimulate economic development."
Up until now, a franchisee has operated Pizza Hut units in these two markets. However, the owner was unable to meet financial obligations to taxing authorities at the federal, state and local levels. As a result, these franchised restaurants have closed and will not reopen.
All is not lost for Pizza Hut fans in these markets, however. The company has identified locations in NOLA and Baton Rouge and will immediately begin building the new units.
Once they are up and operating, Pizza Hut will work with the NUL to seek a new franchisee. At the same time, Pizza Hut is offering displaced employees from the closed units job counseling, training and career placement, with assistance from the ULGNL.
Pizza Hut has committed to spend $1 million with both organizations for this training and counseling. Long term, the company is committed to rehiring former employees as the new restaurants come on line.
Former franchisee Larry Lundy has agreed to help the company with its transition to a model market in both cities, and will serve on a contractual basis with the company for the next five years.
"We are pleased and honored to partner with Pizza Hut as they revitalize New Orleans and Baton Rouge with a significant investment in the community and conduct extensive employee training, job counseling and placement," said Marc H. Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League.