WICHITA, Kan.—Though it left Wichita two years ago, Domino's Pizza wants to return to the market where Frank and Dan Carney founded rival Pizza Hut.
According to the Wichita Business Journal, a Tucson, Ariz., couple, Jim and Melissa Hightower, plan to spend $500,000 to open two Domino's units in the city where Pizza Hut started in 1958.
The Hightowers, who have been Domino's franchisees since 1992, own the rights to develop seven units in the Wichita area over the next three years.
"A lot of people in Domino's are afraid of the Wichita market because of Frank Carney," said Jim Hightower. "We have only the highest regard for Frank Carney—he belongs in the restaurant hall of fame as far as we're concerned. But we think we can compete effectively."
Papa John's franchisee Terry Newman, who operates 13 locations in the Wichita area, said he's not surprised Domino's is coming back.
"Pizza has always been very competitive, and there's always going to be a pizza market in Wichita," Newman says. "Domino's coming back won't change what we do. I'm more worried that we keep doing it right--service, quality and community involvement. You can do more to hurt yourself than anybody else will."