Marquette Pizza Hut on hold, while 300 locations to close nationally


FILE- This Jan. 24, 2017, file photo shows a Pizza Hut in Miami. Pizza Hut has reached an agreement with one of its largest franchisees to close 300 underperforming U.S. restaurants. NPC International, a Leawood, Kansas-based franchisee, announced the agreement Monday, Aug. 17, 2020, in a bankruptcy court filing. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz, File)

MARQUETE, Mich. (AP/WJMN) – Up to 300 Pizza Hut restaurants will be closed, most of them dine-in locations not well suited for carryout and delivery at a time when millions of people are sheltering and eating at home.

The Marquette location along US-41 closed on January 12, 2020. According to a news release at the time, the hope was to reopen the restaurant at another location in the city no later than the end of 2020.

WJMN contacted Michigan Pizza Hut, which is located in St. Joseph, Mi to ask about the status of the Marquette location. A representative said the company is not making any decisions until at least 2021 and is dependent on COVID-19 response and the economy.

Pizza sales have exploded during the pandemic. Domino’s last month reported a 30% spike in quarterly profits. On Monday it said that it was hiring more than 20,000 people to handle surging orders.

Franchisee NPC International said Monday in documents filed in bankruptcy court that it had come to an agreement with Pizza Hut to close hundreds of locations. The Leawood, Kansas, company filed for bankruptcy protection last month.

NPC owns 1,225 Pizza Huts and 385 Wendy’s restaurants in 27 states. There are 6,700 Pizza Hut restaurants in the U.S.

In its filing, NPC said that closing stores not designed for pick-up or delivery will allow it to invest in smaller stores that can better handle online orders.

In May, Pizza Hut’s U.S. carryout and delivery sales reached an eight-year high, according to Yum Brands Inc., the Louisville, Kentucky, company that also owns KFC and Taco Bell.

But Pizza Hut’s U.S. sales grew just 1% in the April-June period; rival Domino’s Pizza, which has smaller, carryout-focused stores, posted a 20% jump in U.S. sales.

Yum Brands in a prepared statement said the stores being closed had underperformed others owned by NPC, and that shedding them would strengthen NPC’s remaining portfolio.

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