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."