What Happened To Pizza Hut's Lunch Buffet (And Is It Still Around)

In the post-COVID age of delivery-only restaurants, all-you-can-eat buffets have become nothing but germ-laden objects of nostalgia for many of us. The Pizza Hut buffets of yore take their place proudly at the center of fast food's dusty "too good to be true" shelf. Remember those simpler times when we could sit down at a real, physical restaurant (under that iconic red roof) and stuff our faces with greasy pizza, pasta, and chocolate mousse for mere dollars?

It seems that interest in this mythical Pizza Hut offering has grown in its apparent absence. While one Reddit user joked that the Pizza Hut buffet could be found if you drove past the strip mall with "Radio Shack, Blockbuster Video, and Toy's R Us," others on r/pizzahut offered news of operational buffets in North Texas and Ohio as recently as one year ago. But these unconfirmed reports can't hide the overall trend that has persisted since 2014: Pizza Hut is shrinking, and it no longer has room for your overstuffed plate of pizza and dessert.

It wasn't just our digestive systems that couldn't quite handle the buffets. It appears that they weren't really helping out business for Pizza Hut either, and nationwide consumers were trending away from the dining model. Buffet-style dining has come to be seen as unsanitary and uncool, contrary to the culture of Instagrammable, customizable food. Though it is reported that most Pizza Hut buffets have been closed since 2014, another wave of closures in 2020  and pushes to delivery-only continued the trend. While the buffets may be out of commission in the U.S. (despite some local reports) the legend lives on abroad.

Where the Pizza Hut dream is still alive

While Pizza Hut was closing buffets in the U.S., it was opening them elsewhere. In 2015, Brazil saw the arrival of self-service Pizza Hut lunch buffets for the first time. While distaste for buffets has grown in the U.S., buffet culture continues to thrive in Brazil. Pizza Hut buffets also live on down under (via BuzzFeed).

That's right, you can still experience buffet bliss and eat until you see red in Australia. At 25 Australian dollars — about 17 U.S. dollars — for all you can eat, it's still a good (if potentially dangerous) bargain. YouTube influencer Bec Hardgrave visited a dine-in location in Queensland and commented on the nostalgia of it all: "They haven't changed anything about it since I was about two years old." That being said, with only a handful of dine-in Pizza Hut locations left, there's no telling how much longer the Aussies will have to live so indulgently.

Since the pandemic hit the U.S., it has seemed like Pizza Hut continues to disappear across the country and the globe, struggling to modernize and keep up with its competitors. But a potential comeback in 2023 has many wondering if better days for the franchise are ahead.

In the meantime, a certain generation has been left to wax poetic on the excesses of the Pizza Hut buffets they experienced at '90s childhood birthday parties and sports team banquets. Forget vomiting in the backseat of Mom's minivan afterward. Think only of that strange, magical blue jelly in the dessert buffet and wonder where all the time has gone. Will this bastion of American excess ever return home?