Desire for delivery closes many dine-in units in Australia

July 29, 2002

SYDNEY, Australia -- Despite serving huge meals at affordable prices, family-friendly restaurants like Pizza Hut and Sizzler have become the victims of a time-poor, takeaway society in Australia.

According to the Daily Telegraph, dozens of family restaurants in the area have closed or been replaced with other retail stores.

NSW Restaurant and Catering Association president Robert Biancardi blamed the dine-in decline on the hectic pace of modern life.

"People's eating habits are changing because they're so time poor," said Biancardi. "They don't have the time to prepare meals so they prefer to pick up meals or have them delivered to their door."

Pizza Hut, which has 285 units in Australia, has subsequently replaced most of its dine-in restaurants in the area with delivery-carryout units. At one point, the chain had 50 dine-in stores in the general area of the city, but now only 15 remain.

General manager of Pizza Hut Australia, Tony Lowings, said since home deliveries were introduced, dine-in restaurants gradually declined in Sydney but were still common in rural areas.

"Dine-in is a relevant part of the business in country towns but has become less relevant in the city," Lowings said. "It's not a big deal anymore; it's part of everyday life and we're giving people what they want."

Tony Iommazzo, regional business development manager at 360-store Pizza Haven, said his company did not see the need to open dine-in stores.

"The cost of dine-ins is just too great," said Iommazzo. "It costs about $250,000 to open a shop front versus over $1 million (about $500,000 U.S.) for a restaurant."

Established chain restaurants such as Sizzler, Black Stump and Lone Star Steakhouse also have shut stores in recent years.

In 1988, Sizzler had 22 stores in the area, but today, there are just three. Lone Star, which once had 25 stores has only seven still in business.

Terry Brand from the Australian Family Association said that "the cost of living is high and families just cannot afford to spend as much money on eating as they may have in the past."

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