I miss the “glory days” of Pizza Hut. That magical time in the 80’s and early 90’s when it was a destination, and not just somewhere to eat. I’ve found recently that those days of yore are long gone, and what is left is what seems like a company struggling to hang on.
Last week, we took our daughters to Pizza Hut for lunch, and as I sat there with them enjoying lunch, I looked around the place and just shook my head at how much it has changed through the years. To me, it no longer feels special. It just feels like another fast food joint with nothing to make it stand out.
As you’ve learned by now, my Father traveled quite a bit when I was growing up, and to kind of take the sting out being gone so much, when he would get back in town on the weekends, he would always take the family out to eat on Friday or Saturday night. This usually meant a trip to Western Steer, Bonanza, or Wendy’s back when they had the Superbar. But a couple of times a year, we would be treated to my favorite place to go in that time frame, Pizza Hut. We only got to go a few times a year because, for the time, Pizza Hut was expensive. But that was part of the appeal. It was a step above other places to eat back then. You weren’t just paying for the food, you were buying an experience.
From the moment you walked in the place, you knew it was something special. You knew this was going to be something you’d remember, and it all started with the decor. The interior didn’t look like a fast food joint with it’s huge, sprawling windows, and cheap looking walls, or tiled floors. When you walked in, you were greeted by brick walls, with smaller windows, that had thick red fabric curtains pulled back, and a carpeted floor. It just felt higher-class that walking into McDonalds or Burger King.
The booths were high-backed, with thick padded vinyl seats and back rests. The high backs was also different from your usual eating out experience. These high backs gave you a sense of privacy, which was great for a date night. Also great for a date night were the candles on the tables. Those little red glass candles that were on every table, and were lit when you got to your seat. It was a little thing, but when added to everything else, it was quite the contribution. Your silverware was wrapped in a thick, cloth napkin that beat the heck out of the paper napkins everyone else was using at the time. And you could always count on the table being covered by a nice, red and white, checkered table cloth.
The lighting at Pizza Hut back then was lower that what you were used to at other places. This was due to the lower wattage bulbs they used, along with their gorgeous, Pizza Hut log emblazoned, stained glass light shades they used to have. Seeing one of those things now instantly takes me back to another place in time! They still look classy and bring old memories flooding back every time I see or think of one. The private feeling booth, the low lighting, the candle on the table, and the brick wall beside you gave a unique feel to the table you were dining at. It greatly enhanced the overall experience.