We Finally Know Why Pizza Hut's Red Roofs Vanished

When it comes to restaurants, change is inevitable. The menu expands, or the prices increase. Sometimes, the ingredients get updated to accommodate more customers' dietary needs, or the logo gets an upgrade. Other restaurants undergo a complete architectural change across all locations. Pizza Hut is one of them.

If you're old enough, you may remember the time when every Pizza Hut you saw had the same red exterior walls and red, hut-shaped roof. The very first restaurant, built in the late '50s, had this same look, which later inspired the logo in 1969.

Decades ago, dining in a Pizza Hut was more of a "take-your-time-and-enjoy" type of experience than it was a place to grab food and go. Many restaurants were spacious and featured booths, jukeboxes, salad bars, and sticker machines for the kids, and glass bottles of parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes sat on each table. Over time, though, the chain evolved by changing its architecture and ordering options to accommodate a specific shift in the restaurant industry.

Why dine in when you can drive through?

Pizza Hut's roomy dining areas and amenities slowly became replaced when the chain introduced delivery and carryout options, as well as Express locations. Today, you can order a pizza and get it in five minutes at a drive-thru establishment or walk-up counter, sans red roof. Mall food courts, movie theaters, airports, and gas stations are just a few of the places where you can now order Pizza Hut pizza and receive it in no time.

So why the change? According to CNN Business, it was because the growing popularity of fast food restaurants — and the simplicity that came with them — reduced the need for elaborate dining spaces. The drive-thru experience has replaced the dine-in experience at many locations, so the overall building can be much smaller than before. "We have a lot of red-roof restaurants that ... clearly need to go away," a Pizza Hut executive told QSR Magazine. He added that at one point, of Pizza Hut's total revenue, less than 10% was from dine-in sales. This fueled the decision to eliminate the large red-roof architecture.

Although the exterior of Pizza Hut has changed over the years, the chain is still going strong as one of the top two pizza chains in the U.S., coming in second only to Dominos' $8.64 billion in sales in 2021 (via Statista).