Tuesday, February 5, 2013

[Suburbia Lost] Pizza Hut - West Side of Cincinnati


The red roof may as well be the "golden arches" of pizza joints. And if the familiar structure didn't give it away, the faded leters will. From a marketing perspective, the company wide architecture standard is brilliant. The brand is easily recognizable. As consumers, we've been primed to spot the familiar shape of a Pizza Hut from a mile away... even if it's an abandoned one.


That's exactly what happened to me. I was on my way to meet some friends at their house before going to a movie. I took the wrong exit off I-74 and as I looked for the correct street, I saw the familiar thatched, red roof of a pizza hut sitting lonely in a parking lot. No cars surrounded it, the logo lettering had been ripped from the roof and the unkempt greenery surrounding the building had grown to Jurassic Park like proportions. Had the place still been open, at least the overgrown weeds would've shielded diners from the awful asphalt view of the strip mall parking lot surrounding them.


As covered in a previous Suburbia Lost post, fast food restaurants are engineered specifically to look similar and become recognizable. Perhaps no chain executed that better than Pizza Hut. The company launched its "Red Roof" style restaurant in 1973 and expanded rapidly across the nation all the way until the mid-90's. Many of the restaurants were built to the exact same size.

If you've seen one Pizza Hut... you've probably seen them all.


Since beginning to decline in the mid-1990's, Pizza Hut's strategy has changed. Very few of the dine-in, "Red Roof" style restaurants are open anymore. Many are abandoned like the one seen here. If you can find an active franchise (like the one near me) the employees are usually sporting grease stained, faded polos that look they're from 1995. The company has shifted to a take out/delivery format across the globe. Many of the "classic" pizza hut restaurants have met the same fate as this one on Cincinnati's West Side.





"Why were you late for the movie?"

"I stopped to photograph an abandoned Pizza Hut."

Suburbia Lost is an ongoing documentation of decay in the sphere of a perceived paradise. After years of photographing abandoned, forgotten, and often historical locations in the city, this project aims to take a look at how structures fare in the sphere of suburbia. You can view other entires in the project, here

Update | Oct. 21, 2017:
  • As of October 2016, this Pizza Hut was reopened as "Christine's Casual Dining."


  1. I'm pretty sure that the Pizza Hut in Oxford is still in a "Red Roof" building - at least it was a couple of years ago.

    1. I went there once, I think that one even has a basement party room. There's still a "red roof" one in Highland Heights near where I live. It's the one with the faded uniforms and bad service that I was referencing above.

      Stuffed Crust is still the mad note though.

  2. The former Pizza Hut at I-75 and Sharon Road is now a bar....but it still SMELLS like Pizza Hut. Does that count?

  3. We still have a "Red Roof" Pizza Hut in Harrison, OH. I have only been there once in the nine years I have lived here. It's a true time capsule (dump). Appropriately, it's right across the street from a Waffle House of the same vintage.

  4. Man, they even stripped the red and white checkered vinyl table clothes when they closed this one. I kinda imagined those things would have bonded to the tabletop.

  5. "Contract or no, I will not bow to any sponsor."

  6. There's still a "Red Roof" Pizza Hut on Colerain Avenue north of the mall as well.

  7. The location in this post is literally a few minutes up the street from my house. This is on Harrison Ave. in Dent. Right in front of Gabriel Brothers, which ironically enough, used to be a K-Mart.