scorecardI visited a sit-down Pizza Hut in Dubai that's nothing like the US brand, and now I'm convinced it should return to the classic restaurants that made it famous
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I visited a sit-down Pizza Hut in Dubai that's nothing like the US brand, and now I'm convinced it should return to the classic restaurants that made it famous

I visited a sit-down Pizza Hut in Dubai that's nothing like the US brand, and now I'm convinced it should return to the classic restaurants that made it famous
Retail2 min read

  • Pizza Hut is struggling to keep its No. 1 market share in the $38 billion US pizza market, as Domino's and Papa John's continue to expand.
  • For people who grew up on Pizza Hut, its restaurants today are a pale imitation of the brand's 1980s and 1990s heyday, when the restaurants were a buzzing place to sit down and have a meal.
  • But the US only accounts for half of Pizza Hut's business. When traveling, I have found that international Pizza Huts retain the upscale sit-down feel of classic Pizza Huts.
  • I tried a number of dishes at a Pizza Hut restaurant in Dubai and found the food to be tastier and fresher than its American counterpart.

For those that grew up in the 1980s and 1990s, Pizza Hut was an experience.

I have many fond memories of that red-roofed Church of 'Za - its translucent red cups, the hanging stained glass lamps, the seemingly infinite salad bar, the joy of the midday pizza buffet, and the smell of a sizzling pizza in a pan.

Not these days. It's no secret that the brand has seen better days.

Over the last two decades, Pizza Hut's share of the fast food pizza market has dwindled from 25% in 1995 to around 14%, as Domino's and Papa John's continue to grow. Many industry analysts suspect that, by the end of the year, Domino's will have overtaken Pizza Hut as the top pizza brand in the US.

Read more: I've been traveling the world for 6 months and I use the same trick in any city I visit to make sure I find amazing food

As Pizza Hut has tried to grow sales, it has turned increasingly to its competitors' strategies of relying on low-margin, high-volume delivery and takeout locations. In the US, there are only a handful of the beloved red-roofed sit-down restaurants left.

But the US only accounts for half of Pizza Hut's revenue, with the rest coming from its more than 9,000 locations across the world. Pizza Hut and its parent company, Yum! Brands, have expanded aggressively across the world, often being the first American brands to touch down in far-flung places. Yum Brand's KFC was the first American brand in China, with Pizza Hut close behind. In 2009, Pizza Hut was the first international fast-food restaurant to open in Nepal.

As I've traveled around the world, I've noticed - whether I'm in China, Japan, or the Middle East - that the Pizza Hut of Old still lives. In many of the 100 countries that Pizza Hut has locations, it still operates as an upscale sit-down restaurant.

On a recent trip to the Dubai Mall, I spotted a sit-down Pizza Hut that had a fresh, new look. I decided to give it a try to see what it was like.

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