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Are Pizza Hut Tyler, Texas grocery kiosks 1st part of 500-store transition in US?

| by S.A. Whitehead
Are Pizza Hut Tyler, Texas grocery kiosks 1st part of 500-store transition in US?

Photo: Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut and representatives from the three-state Brookshire Grocery Co. gathered in Tyler, Texas last week to cut the ribbon on the pizza brand's first grocery store kiosks, which are now open in Brookshire's East Fifth Street store and Super 1 Foods Troup Highway store, both in Tyler, the brands confirmed. The move comes months after Pizza Hut said it would shut 500 U.S. stores to transform the brand to a more delivery/carryout concept to match today's marketplace.

The move also comes just as grocery super-giant, Kroger's announced this week that it is opening restaurant ghost kitchens in several Midwest markets to deliver an array of restaurant menu foods to customers in Carmel and Indianapolis, Indiana, as well as that restaurant mecca of Columbus, Ohio. The Pizza Hut Tyler, Texas kiosks are actually small brand storefronts, rather than standalone digital kiosks and are viewed as a way to extend the brand's reach in today's very convenience-oriented economy. Clearly though the lines are blurring between the traditional grocery that sells food to cook at home and traditional restaurant that sells food to eat in its dining room.

"We know our Pizza Hut customers crave our signature menu items while on the go," Pizza Hut Express Senior Director Chequan Lewis, said in a news release about the openings. "Opening Pizza Hut's first grocery store kiosk at Brookshire's and Super 1 Food gives us another avenue to meet our customers wherever they are and provide them their favorite pizza and snack items through convenient in-store options."

The Pizza Hut kiosk menu includes personal pizzas, pastas, hot wings, chocolate chip cookies, and parmesan and pretzel bites, available from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Plans for growth of the kiosks in grocery stores were not released, though the privately owned Brookshire and Super 1 Food have stores in Arkansas and Louisiana, as well. 

"We are excited to be the first retail grocer to offer our customers the convenience of fresh, hot Pizza Hut menu items," Brookshire Chairman and CEO Brad Brookshire, said in information sent to Pizza Marketplace. "Our company is very proud to partner with Pizza Hut and expand our services in support of our mission to create and deliver exceptional experiences and value to our customers."

Earlier this year, Pizza Hut parent, Yum Brands, announced during a Q2 financial report conference call it was moving toward temporarily closing nearly 500 of its 7,500 U.S. stores as part of its efforts to aim the brand's business more toward carryout and delivery business, over dine-in. Yum Brands CEO Greg Creed at that time said, "We understand more clearly than ever that same-store sales growth in the U.S. will continue to be choppy without transforming the asset base."

Creed explained that the brand would quickly move to convert Pizza Hut U.S. to a delivery/carryout model by working with well-performing franchisees to close under-performing dine-in units and replace them with "delivery or fast casual delivery assets."

Yum Brands President and COO David Gibbs said then that the changes would happen over the next two years, but it remains unclear whether this is definitively part of that transformation. As of this writing, the brand has not responded to follow-up questions from Pizza Marketplace. 

Topics: Customer Service / Experience, Delivery, Franchising & Growth, Online Ordering

Companies: Kroger, Yum! Brands, Pizza Hut

S.A. Whitehead

Award-winning veteran print and broadcast journalist, Shelly Whitehead, has spent most of the last 30 years reporting for TV and newspapers, including the former Kentucky and Cincinnati Post and a number of network news affiliates nationally. She brings her cumulative experience as a multimedia storyteller and video producer to the web-based pages of and after a lifelong “love affair” with reporting the stories behind the businesses that make our world go ‘round. Ms. Whitehead is driven to find and share news of the many professional passions people take to work with them every day in the pizza and quick-service restaurant industry. She is particularly interested in the growing role of sustainable agriculture and nutrition in food service worldwide and is always ready to move on great story ideas and news tips.

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