Pizza players prepared for Thanksgiving weekend rush

While the Super Bowl is clearly the heaviest day for pizza deliveries, the night before Thanksgiving falls in the top five, at No. 4.

Rounding out the busiest days for the pizza joints are New Year's Eve (No. 2), Halloween (No.3) and New Year's Day (No. 5). That means the segment gets a massive 2-month influx at the end (and very beginning) of the year.

Many pizza businesses will be whipping up pies throughout the rest of the week, as the restaurant industry prepares for a busy holiday. The National Restaurant Association has projected that 14 million Americans will visit a restaurant for a Thanksgiving meal this year, and an additional 16 million will order takeout to supplement a meal for the holiday.

In addition, 32 million Americans are expected to dine out while shopping on Black Friday, according to new research by the NRA.

"In today's activity-rich, time-poor society, restaurants play an important role in bringing friends and family together to share a holiday meal for Thanksgiving," said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the NRA. "Our research clearly shows that the convenience of restaurant meals — not having to shop, cook and clean up — drives consumer behavior and will lead millions of Americans to patronize restaurants this Thanksgiving."

Pizza chains feed the frenzy

A handful of pizza companies are taking advantage of the holiday hustle and bustle heading into Thanksgiving weekend.

Pizza Hut has introduced its Big Dinner Box to support the holiday madness, just in time for "Red Roof Wednesday," the company's name for Thanksgiving Eve.

Pizza Hut expects to sell 1 million pizzas today. The projection continues a trend that makes the day before Thanksgiving consistently the busiest week day of the year at Pizza Hut (excluding Fridays). In addition to the 1 million pizzas sold, Pizza Hut is expecting to receive 275,000 orders for the new Big Dinner Box today.

The limited-time Big Dinner Box is filled with two medium rectangular one-topping pizzas, eight wings and five breadsticks for $19.99.

"More than 50 years ago, Pizza Hut began a journey that brought great tasting, value-driven pizza to a national audience," said Kurt Kane, chief marketing officer at Pizza Hut. "Now we're breaking ground again by offering our first ever pizza value box because we know that our customers need a value-conscious option that can feed a crowd during the holidays."

Riding the momentum throughout the weekend, Pizza Hut has also announced a 20 percent discount for Cyber Monday for anyone who orders any menu item through PizzaHut.com.

The idea behind the Cyber Monday promotion is to introduce more people to Pizza Hut's online component, according to Tressie Lieberman, senior manager of digital marketing.

"This is the most aggressive online campaign we've put out there. There are no strings attached. We know all brands are being aggressive for Cyber Monday and we want to meet consumer expectations," she said.

Domino's Pizza timed the launch of its new Stuffed Cheesy Bread just in time for the holiday, according to a release, and is running a national TV campaign to support the rollout. The new, permanent menu item is available in three flavors: bacon & jalapeno, spinach & feta and cheese only. The bread features both mozzarella and shredded cheddar cheeses.

Also, according to Christopher Brandon, spokesperson for the company, Domino's amps up staffing in stores for the Thanksgiving Eve rush.

Pie Five Pizza Co. is setting its promotional sites on Black Friday weekend. The new quick-serve concept from Pizza Inn will offer a buy-one-get-one-pizza-free special for customers who bring in a shopping receipt dated Nov. 25, Nov. 26 or Nov. 27.

Additionally, the company will donate $1 from each purchase to The North Texas and Tarrant Area Food Banks.

"We can sympathize with people who have waited in line for hours just to get that perfect holiday gift. The last thing they want to do is go home and cook," said Kendra Shier, vice president of marketing for parent company Pizza Inn Holdings Inc. "We're offering them the ultimate break from the chaos: a fresh gourmet individual pizza, made the way they want it, baked and ready to enjoy or go in less than five minutes, and one more for free. At the same time, their purchase will help to provide food for those in need."

Flexing its creative side for the holiday, NYC staple Pizza by Cer Te began offering a Thanksgiving pizza in early November, topped with turkey meatballs, mashed potatoes, cranberries, gravy and mozzarella.

Read more about promotional campaigns.

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