Pizza Hut wants to freshen look, improve delivery

Monday, November 6, 2006
John Distefano, general manager of the new Pizza Hut on North Sprigg Street in Cape Girardeau, sliced up a deep dish pizza in the restaurant's kitchen last week. (Don Frazier)

Pizza Hut is stepping up its Cape Girardeau presence with plans to have as many as three restaurants here within the next two years, including a new 4,500-square-foot store at North Pointe Plaza on North Kingshighway.

Two years ago, A&D Management of Mount Pleasant, Iowa, bought the Pizza Huts in Cape Girardeau and Jackson and owns 11 Pizza Huts in Missouri. Now, the company wants to freshen its look, location and improve on delivery times.

"We're going through and revitalizing a lot of our stores," said Steve Washburn, regional manager and an owner. "Our stores here are some of our older assets and we want to re-do some of them. We see a lot of opportunities here."

The revamping began last Wednesday, when Pizza Hut Wing Street opened at 820 N. Sprigg, which offers pizza and buffalo wings. The company also announced that it has purchased about an acre at North Pointe commercial subdivision in the 1700 block of North Kingshighway near the Sonic Drive In.

Owners are hopeful that construction can start next fall and be open 120 days later with a new restaurant, new look and much nicer facility than the existing Pizza Hut which is more than 30 years old.

"It's been neglected a long time," Washburn said. "There's not a nicer way to put it."

When the new Pizza Hut at North Pointe opens, they may convert the existing Pizza Hut on South Kingshighway into a delivery only store, or they may close it down, he said.

"We'll just see how the market plays out and what the needs of the customers are," he said.

The new store at North Pointe offers a better location, he said, although it isn't the perfect spot, he said.

"Ideally, we'd like to be out on William," he said. "But we couldn't get anything out there. But the North Pointe spot has a lot of perks."

The one that opened on North Sprigg last week is considered mainly a delivery/carry out, although there is a dining area that seats about 50. Washburn said they employed about 50 workers, which includes delivery drivers.

"We wanted to cater to the college crowd," he said. "But we also wanted to improve our delivery time. The town is too big to deliver out of one location and do a good job."

The average wait on a delivery was about 45 minutes, but with two stores he hopes to cut down the delivery time to about 30 minutes.

Washburn said business at the Cape Girardeau store is good, but admits owning restaurants here can be difficult at times.

"It's challenging," he said. "There are a lot of restaurants in this town. But we like it here. There's the university, there's a lot of growth. Lots of new homes, new businesses."

Even if the Pizza Hut on South Kingshighway is closed, Washburn said plans for another new Pizza Hut, which would make the total three, isn't out of the question, which could also be somewhere on Kingshighway.

"We'll just see what the market calls for," he said.

Pizza Hut is a restaurant chain and international franchise based in Dallas, Texas, USA, specializing in American-style pizza along with side dishes including buffalo wings, breadsticks, and garlic bread. Pizza Hut is the world's largest pizza restaurant chain with nearly 34,000 restaurants, delivery-carry out units, and kiosks in 100 countries.

smoyers@semissourian.com

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