A Pizza Hut franchisee has permanently closed 17 restaurants in Western New York due to the restrictions tied to the coronavirus pandemic, parent company Yum Brands said.
The restaurants, often referred to as traditional “red roof” full-service locations, had been temporarily closed since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. The franchisee, who Yum Brands did not name, opted to shutter them permanently.
“As a result of 17 Pizza Hut dine-in restaurants in Western New York initially closing temporarily due to COVID-19 restrictions, the local franchisee made the decision to permanently close these stores,” Yum Brands said in a statement sent to Nation’s Restaurant News this week. “However, Pizza Hut has new franchisees coming into the New York region, and we are hopeful we will be able to serve our customers in this area again in the future.”
Pizza Hut, which struggled to find its financial footing prior to the pandemic, has been moving away from red roof restaurants since last year. The brand has been investing in growing delivery and smaller format restaurants, yet many consumers don’t see them as a delivery business.
In August 2019, Yum Brands said the division will likely decrease domestic locations by nearly 500 stores over the next two years. Underperforming stores will be closed and likely replaced with modern express stores.
“We are leaning in to accelerate the transition of our Pizza Hut U.S. asset base to truly modern delivery carryout assets,” Yum Brands CEO David Gibbs said last year when he was chief operating officer.
The New York-based Pizza Hut operator is not alone in its struggles. NPC International Inc., which operates more than 1,600 restaurant franchises, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this summer.
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