Pizza Hut is closing about 500 dine-in restaurants across the U.S.

The closures are part of the pizza chain’s plan to boost its carryout and delivery businesses.

Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut is planning to shut down as many as 500 dine-in restaurants in the country as it shifts its focus to growing its carryout and delivery businesses.

“We are leaning in to accelerate the transition of our Pizza Hut U.S. asset base to truly modern delivery/carryout assets,” David W. Gibbs, president, chief operating officer and chief financial officer for Yum! Brands, said (via Food Business News) during an earnings call on August 1st. “This will ultimately strengthen the Pizza Hut business in the U.S. and set it up for a faster long-term growth.”

According to the Yum! Brands website, there are currently 7,496 Pizza Hut locations across the country. Of those, 6,100 are traditional dine-in restaurants, while the remaining 1,350 are express locations. But with the pizza chain’s new plan, the total number of these locations is expected to drop to as low as 7,000 in the next couple of years.

“During this transition, we expect a temporary deceleration in the pace of new unit development for the Pizza Hut division,” said Gibbs. “As a result, our U.S. store count could drop to as low as 7,000 locations over the next 24 months, primarily driven by closures of underperforming dine-in restaurants before rebounding to current levels and above in the future.”

However, Gibbs admitted that they can’t say exactly when an underperforming dine-in location will close and when its express location replacement will open. “As far as the numbers and how the math works, it’s hard to estimate how soon the timing of when a store will close and then when the replaced unit will open,” Gibbs explained. “There will be gaps on some of those, but certainly, our goal is to try to minimize those gaps.”

Apparently, Pizza Hut isn’t the only fast food chain under the Yum! Brands that has started to focus on delivery. According to Yum! Brands chief executive officer Greg Creed, KFC now has 2,300 units offering delivery thanks to its partnership with Grubhub. Also, 4,500 Taco Bell restaurants across the country are now offering delivery services.

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