Workers reveal what it's really like to work at Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut started in 1958 when the Carney brothers borrowed a modest $600 from their mom. Today, there are more than 18,000 locations around the world — about 6,700 of which are in the United States, according to USA Today. All of which is to say that there's a good chance that you've encountered the Hut at some point in your life. But have you ever thought about what it's like for the people who work there?

There are some bright spots, like humorous (and sometimes personal) customer order notes. There's also the fact that workers know the menu so well inside and out that there's a slew of employee favorite special orders for both the pizza and the non-pizza options. Yet, like every job in pizza and the fast food industry in general, there's also more than a few downsides — mountains of pans from the pan pizza and phone calls from rude customers, to name a few.

This is what it's really like to work at Pizza Hut, according to comments from current and former employees.

Pizza Hut workers have their own set of custom pizza orders

Pizza is inherently customizable thanks to the numerous toppings available, so custom orders or any sort of secret menu aren't exactly as common at pizza spots as they are at burger joints. Still, judging by current and former Pizza Hut employees on Reddit, there is still a lot of room for workers to play around and create their own concoctions. Just be warned: these are not always simple affairs.

One person in r/PizzaHutEmployees swears by a Chicago-style deep dish that's made by putting an individual hand-tossed pizza in a personal pan so that the dough runs up the edges of the pan. Four types of cheese, bacon, and Italian sausage are put on top, and then it's put through the oven once. Then comes pepperoni, veggies, more cheese, sauce, and garlic butter on the crust before it's put in the oven once again to finish.

In another thread in the same subreddit, an employee noted they take the cheese-stuffed crust to the next level by making it a bacon stuffed crust. One worker posted on Reddit that they create what they call a "pizzadilla" — a thin crust that has cheese on one half that's then folded over and covered with sauce, cheese, and toppings. The best ways to upgrade a pizza don't always have to be so complicated, though. The same worker who makes pizzadillas also noted that a simple upgrade is to swap marinara sauce for meat sauce.

Pizza Hut workers actually read (and judge) the customer order notes

Don't think that your note to the staff that you put in while making your online order is going unread. Also, if you're asking for something excessive on your ticket, the workers will judge.

One of the best examples is when a customer leaves a friendly note. An employee posted on Reddit about one such instance after someone made an order with the added notes (in all caps) "WE LOVE YOU" and "THANK YOU FOR BEING YOU." That sign of appreciation goes further than you might think. Another employee responded to the notes with the comment with, "It's the little things in life that make the HutLife," adding that workers "have been so desensitized to everything and expect bullsh*t so often that just a sincere thank you brightens our day."

On the more judgmental side of reading ticket orders, every special request has the potential to make a worker laugh. When an employee received a ticket order that requested all pepperoni on top, they wondered on Reddit, "Where else is it supposed to go?" Another worker mocked an order for a sandwich to remove the ham but add four extra servings of salami. And then there are the orders that make workers wonder, like a delivery request for two frosting dips, one regular brownie, and one regular chocolate chip, which prompted an employee to post on Reddit, "They do realize that Pizza Hut is a pizza place, right?"

The amount of tips that Pizza Hut drivers make can cause some tension

When it comes to delivery, Pizza Hut drivers are most often the workers who customers engage with at the very end of the pizza transaction. That means that drivers are also the ones bringing in the tips. That's not always an easy pill to swallow for all the workers who make the food, take the orders, and bus the tables at locations with indoor dining.

On Reddit's r/PizzaHutEmployees, many bitter memes have been posted about the skewed dynamic. One has the caption "Cooks watching drivers get more than 30 cents in tips a day" and shows Squidward watching Spongebob and Patrick play outside from between his window blinds. A driver responded: "As a driver this makes me feel bad but it's hilarious."

Not all drivers are so understanding. In a Reddit thread, an employee wrote that "if you wanna make driver tips become a driver," since drivers depreciate their car by putting miles on it and risk getting in an accident each trip. One person also noted that they give a paltry $5 to in-store workers on "a good night," despite multiple others in the same thread posting about how drivers complain when they only make $80 in tips on a Friday night.

Working the Super Bowl at Pizza Hut is absolute madness

This might seem obvious, but working at Pizza Hut during the Super Bowl is a lot of labor. Workers have posted on Reddit about having to start preparations the night before. In one thread, an employee advised that "the trick is to make sure that every little dumb thing you might not normally portion or prep is done," from draining the pineapples and olives to stuffing the crusts. Another advised in the same thread to start folding boxes before the weekend "and don't stop until Sunday after the game."

One of the biggest challenges is all of the future orders made by people who want their pizza just before the game starts. "There will most likely be a lot and almost all of them will be due at about the same time," one worker wrote on Reddit. "If you aren't prepared it can really screw things up." Once the game starts and the first rush is over, however, it can feel like relatively calm and smooth sailing.

Unfortunately for the employees who put in the work, all of the preparation doesn't always pay off. As one employee noted, Pizza Hut sales can flop depending on who is playing and who wins. It's all just part of the wild ride that is working at a pizza joint on Super Bowl Sunday.

The discounted food benefits for workers at Pizza Hut aren't great

Restaurant workers don't typically receive a lot of benefits. According to one study in 2019, only 31 percent of restaurants provide basic health insurance. One benefit that is more common at places like Chipotle, Burger King, Five Guys, and others is free or deeply discounted food.

At Pizza Hut, it all depends on which store workers are at and how profitable that store is, according to statements made by former employees. That means the food discounts range from minuscule to a solid bargain.

In response to a question on Quora, a number of former workers shared the discounts they received. Adam Hill wrote that he received a 50 percent discount on anything he wanted until the location sold to a franchisee that only allowed half off personal pan pizzas on days that Hill worked eight hours or more. Tumi Thomas noted that workers get one free small pizza on days they work at that location — something others confirmed as a common policy. Dakota Lally wrote that the strictest discount policy he saw was 20 percent off of an order for a maximum discount of $10.

On Glassdoor, former workers have stated that they get as little as $5 off of a meal on days they work, or as much as 50 percent off. So if cheap or free food is a perk you cherish, you might want to scope out your local Pizza Hut before applying.

There are mountains of pan pizza dishes for Pizza Hut workers to clean up every night

Pizza Hut is famous for being one of the first fast food pizza chains to make pan pizza. The pan pizzas is also famous among workers, but for a completely different reason: They cause so many dishes.

On r/PizzaHutEmployees, you don't have to scroll long before finding images of the pans, sheets, and lids that build up in the back. As one employee put it, "There's mountains of dishes at the end of the night." It's a lot of work for people who want to make sure that the restaurant is spick and span for the next day, but it also means some people take shortcuts to finish up faster.

In a Reddit thread, employees revealed the real actions they take to make the copious cleaning go faster. One employee confessed that over ten years of working at Pizza Hut, they never saw the pans washed. Instead, the leftover crust was scraped off, and the pans were run through the oven (apparently there was no mold because "those pans were cleansed in fire"). Another admitted to simply wiping the pans off with a dry towel or rag unless the pan had fallen on the floor.

It's not a new issue at Pizza Hut. In 2014, Danial Adkison wrote about his time working at Pizza Hut in 1989 for the New York Times. The title says it all: "Drowning in Dishes, but Finding a Home."

Pizza Hut workers have to deal with extremely impatient and indecisive customers on the phone

Despite online ordering being faster than ever, hungry Pizza Hut customers still rely on the good old phone call when they want some pizza. That doesn't always bode well for the employees, especially if it's busy in the store, the person on the other end of the line is rude, or if it's some kid making a prank call.

One worker posted on Reddit about their phone call horror story that happened to them. The customer was a regular known for being impatient and easily annoyed. Sure enough, he told the worker, "well you're taking way too long and I'm getting really hungry" in a stern voice, causing the worker to burst into tears on their first call.

Sometimes the calls are more annoying than intimidating. Another worker posted that they've had people call the store to ask what toppings are available, and then the customer "just orders a pepperoni after you read the entire menu."

The person who takes the calls isn't always in the store, however. In January of 2020, a worker in San Diego, California, posted on Reddit that all phone orders in the area were forwarded to call centers. The plus side to that is busy crew members don't have to deal with the phones. The downside is that, according to the worker, "literally everything that can go wrong does, every single day" when the call center is involved.

Pizza Hut workers have to hand-make each stuffed crust

In 1995, Pizza Hut debuted its stuffed crust pizza. According to FoodBeast, the food scientist Patty Scheibmeir came up with the idea, and it took a full three years to get to market. Pizza Hut went all out in promotion when stuffed crust was announced, including bringing in Donald Trump and his then-recent ex-wife Ivana to make a commercial. The wait was worth it. Stuffed crust pizza was an immediate hit with a reported $300 million in sales in the first year, according to Restaurant News.

Today, workers still hand-stuff the crust of each and every pie. On Reddit, former employees described the process: First, the dough is proofed and stretched. Then, cheese sticks (one employee described it as "basically string cheese") are lined along the edge of the crust and the dough is folded over. A rolling wheel perforates the dough to seal the crust and prevent bubbles, another employee explained on Reddit.

The method clearly works and is worth each employee's extra effort. Otherwise, it wouldn't have stayed on the Pizza Hut menu for the past 25 years and counting.

Pizza Hut workers have hacks to make the non-pizza orders better

Just like the Pizza Hut workers know the best ways to make a better pizza, they know the best ways to hack the rest of the menu items as well. In a thread on r/PizzaHutEmployees, a number of employees listed their favorite off-menu food items to make. Judging from the responses, workers are into creating (and sharing the recipes for) everything from the sweetest of sweet concoctions to the saltiest and most garlicky snacks you can imagine.

Some of the hacks are simple — bone-in wings with Buffalo sauce and garlic parmesan that's topped with shredded parmesan and baked, for example. Others turn typical orders into something completely different. Thin pieces of dough, for instance, are fried into chips to make bready nachos using the chicken, beef, cheese, black olives, jalapenos, onions, and diced tomatoes.

There are plenty of options for employees with a sweet tooth too. One worker said they fry over-proofed breadsticks and then cover them with cinnamon to make something that tastes close to a churro. Another makes donuts by deep-frying the dough from personal pan pizzas or the breadsticks, and then shakes the finished product up in cinnamon sugar. For the closest thing you can get to an empanada, add some butter, cinnamon sugar, and pineapple pieces into a personal pan and fold it and seal the edges. Fry it up, and viola, a handheld dessert ready just for you.

Pizza Hut drivers put a lot of wear and tear on their cars that's not always fully compensated

While Pizza Hut drivers may make more in tips than other workers, there's a cost to making all those delivery runs. The pay scale changes based on gas prices and the minimum wage laws where the employee works, but every delivery driver is putting miles on their car, burning gas, and wearing down their car tires. All those miles from deliveries also means a greater need for oil changes and the ever-present risk of a wreck every time the worker is on the road.

One employee who works in Montana posted on Reddit that they make around $15 an hour after tips and wages despite the extra costs associated with using their personal vehicle. In short, the worker wrote, "good money, if we get tipped."

Other workers chimed in on the same thread about what they pull in as a delivery driver. It works for some, like the worker at a high-volume store who makes close to $550 driving for 25 hours a week. Employees at locations with fewer sales reported having a harder time — especially when the delivery range stretched past five miles. A short delivery range doesn't always make things better, though. An employee on the r/TalesFromThePizzaGuy subreddit argued that the $1 flat fee was better than a per-mile payment because deliveries at his location were restricted to a four-mile radius.

Pizza Hut cooks have the least earning potential

While delivery drivers are wearing down their cars and servers have to deal with (sometimes irate) customers, Pizza Hut cooks have the hardest time when it comes to compensation.

A former employee named Cadence Anne Crone who started out as a cook posted on Quora that "there is no 'above minimum wage' earning potential that you have in all the other jobs (drivers and servers get tips, and management earns a little over minimum wage)." While answering the same Quora question about the Pizza Hut work experience, a former worker named Sarah Robbie added that "there's not a lot of opportunity for advancement outside of a store level."

The cooks are classified as "insiders," meaning they work inside the kitchen rather than one of the customer-facing or management positions. On the subreddit r/TalesFromThePizzaGuy, a former employee wrote that "the insiders in a pizza place aren't paid competitively." As put more bluntly by another former employee in the Pizza Hut Reddit channel: "It's a dead end job, with the bare minimum pay. Only teens and people who can't drive fill this position and neither are looking to do it long."