Bethany Clough

Pizza Hut to close, move more than 450 restaurants. What does this mean for Fresno?

Pizza Hut officials say the company will temporarily close and replace some of of its restaurants naionwide.
Pizza Hut officials say the company will temporarily close and replace some of of its restaurants naionwide. Associated Press file photo

Pizza Hut is planning to temporarily close and replace more than 450 of its restaurants.

The company plans to create restaurants that focus on pizza delivery and pickup, not a dine-in experience.

Executives detailed their plans in a financial earnings conference call Thursday.

They did not say if any of the changes would happen in the Fresno area. The company did not return a phone call inquiring about affected locations.

Pizza Hut has eight restaurants in Fresno and Clovis and many more in surrounding cities. It has 7,449 restaurants nationwide.

Sales at Pizza Hut are growing but barely. Meanwhile, sales at sister companies KFC and Taco Bell are much healthier.

David Gibbs, the president and chief operating officer of Pizza Hut’s parent company, Yum! Brands, said in a conference call with investors this week: “We have a lot of stores that were built in the right spot 30 or 40 years ago in the trade area, but that’s not the right spot in the trade area today for a modern delivery asset.”

“If we can get those stores closed and then put in the right spot in the trade area for delivery, obviously there’s going to be upsides to sales,” he said.

There could be gaps between a restaurant closing and reopening, he said.

Pizza Hut has been shifting more of its focus to delivery and pickup in recent years.

For example, Pizza Hut closed its restaurant with a dining room at Blackstone and Clinton avenues in Fresno, reopening as a smaller location with just a few tables at Ashlan and Blackstone avenues.

“This will ultimately position the Pizza Hut Brand for many years of faster growth in the United States,” said Yum! Brands CEO Greg Creed, in the conference call.

Bethany Clough: (559) 441-6431, @BethanyClough

Bethany Clough covers restaurants and retail for The Fresno Bee. A reporter for 20 years, she now works to answer readers’ questions about business openings, closings and other business news. She has a degree in journalism from Syracuse University and her last name is pronounced Cluff.