By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published The Other Press. November 17, 2014
There was a time when I was rewarded for my minor accomplishments with a trip to Pizza Hut. My parents would gather my good company together to enjoy an evening at a restaurant that served primarily pizza. Today, the dine-in culture of pizza is gone. Cheap and convenient pizza joints such as Fresh Slice, Megabite Pizza, and Pizza Garden have multiplied over the years, lowering the margin for big-name pizza franchises.
On November 19, Pizza Hut will do what their low-key counterparts have been doing since their inception by offering a diverse new menu. One appealing factor of the smaller pizza places is their ability to improvise. A customer can look through the sneeze guard and see the variety—that’s the demand. And with a declining market of dine-in customers, Pizza Hut will have to do more than pepperoni and meat lover.
Pizza Hut’s new menu will offer innovative flavours including Sweet Sriracha Dynamite, Buffalo State of Mind, Old-Fashioned Meat Brawl, and more. Offering specialty dishes is nothing new in the restaurant industry and many culinary innovators are using traditional food as a blank canvas, creating what some are calling “frankenfood.”
Sushi restaurants, especially in Vancouver, have been some of the most adventurous eateries in the world. Almost every sushi menu has a page dedicated to specialty sushi, some exclusive to the restaurant. Having unique dishes allows the company to drive up the price, and if the dish attracts a cult following, then in a way, the business will never die.
Pizza, like sushi, comes with a plethora of flavours, and customers now have an acquired taste within the food genre. It’s more than being daring. Anybody who had tasted the poutine pizza could tell you that; it’s about giving the market what they want. People are sick of the pepperoni pizzas and the California rolls. Competition in the food and beverage industry is a battle, and more menu options is the key to victory.
Pizza Hut was once a “high class” pizza restaurant, but it can no longer survive with that persona. The public has become acclimatized to the quick-serve pizza joints and place customer service at the bottom of their pizza experience needs. They can eat pizza off a plate or they can eat it while sitting on the curb, it doesn’t matter. What matters is the taste.
Premium dishes with unique ingredient combinations make eating fun. And with so many dining choices around the block, executives need to find ways to separate their menu from others’. When people consider ordering pizza they often don’t have a preference; whichever delivers fastest, whichever is closest, and whichever has the best recipes will win the pizza war in the end.
Pizza Hut’s new initiative is far from revolutionary, but it’s necessary. And for other failing food chains in the red, Pizza Hut’s renaissance should act as an inspiration.