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There's a lot to be said about the ever-growing in size restaurant chain that is Pizza Hut. After working there for 4 years (oh my God, thats like a fifth of my life) I guess I have a very good insight and a lot of knowledge about the place. I shall be as unbiased as possible (just for the record though, I hate it, I hate it, I hate it!!! Though that's just my experience of working there as a part time and for a period of 7 months full time, and that is not what I am reviewing, I just thought I would get that off my chest *ahhhh*)
Ok, as if you didn't know, Pizza Hut is the largest growing restaurant in the UK, (possibly the world, I fear it's growing to be something like a Microsoft or Richard Branson establishment) and is definitely the largest Pizza restaurant, taking over from the slightly going-down-the-pan Pizza Express. This is hard to believe seen as Pizza Hut started off by 2 Americans, actually being ran from, believe it or not, a hut. Soon, one hut become two, two became three, and eventually Pepsi bought it. Today, Pizza Hut is owned jointly by Whitbread (TGI Fridays, Marriott Hotels, Travel Inn, Brewers Fayres) and Tricon (KFC).
Enough of the history, I'll start to talk about something a little more relevant, the menu!
Over the last year, Pizza Hut have changed their menu quite a bit, obviously trying to increase interest by those who don't enjoy pizza. Now included on the menu are a new range of pastas (nothing too extravagant, remember someone like me, a student, who cannot cook to save her life is making this stuff!) which range from lasagne, spaghetti bolognese, taglietelli carbonara & penne mediterranean vegetable. The prices being at a whopping £7/8 each (depending upon which hut you are in - we'll go into this later) you would expect that the pastas would be more than receiving them frozen and putting them in an oven for 7.5 minutes. However, this is the way Pizza Hut goes, and the cheaper they can make things for themselves, the better.
Also new to the menu are a range of salads. Don't panic, the salad bar is still there(!), but for again, anothing whopping price of £7 you would expect a lot more than a salad thrown together in a panic at the last minute because the pizza to accompany it is already out of the oven, and the salad has not yet been made. The salad menu consists of caesar salad, chicken caesar salad, and a hot chicken salad. Although having said this the caesar dressing has just been withdrawn due to the Sudan 1 case that you may have heard of on the news over the last few days.
Pizza Hut have also added a few more starters and appetisers to their menu. Along with the oldies that are garlic bread, chicken wings and mushrooms, come the potato wedges, chicken dippers and nachos *hurrah*. Again, all are very over priced, £4 for nachos - you get little more than a handful.
One thing that remains the same is the main bulk of the menu, that is the Pizzas. And this is the reason that even though Pizza Hut is so overpriced, it still remains the largest pizza restaurant in the UK. Don't get me wrong, the pizzas are over priced too, little do the customers know that it costs a mere 72p to make a medium grand pan veg supreme, yet on the menu it costs £8.99. But it cannot be denied that Pizza Hut pizzas are the most popular, and people deem it as a treat to splash out here. The trick is, there's something for everyone. Pizza Hut boast the largest variety of pizza bases - grand pan, italian, the edge, sicilians, and the most popular - the stuffed crust. And not to be out done by not offering low in fat products (as well as the new salads) is the hi-lite pizza - which is just an edge with half the cheese.
I'll be honest, prior to working there, I absolutely loved a Pizza Hut pizza, and the only reason I don't now is the fact that after 4 years of constantly eating them, they become very bland. However I still eat them everytime I'm at work due to getting a free one.
Pizza Hut also use 3 different sauces. They generally come as standard with particular sauces, but if you find you like one more than the other then you can request it. On the grand pan pizzas, traditional pizza sauce is used, and on the rest of the pizzas, sweet sauce is used. And then of course you can also request barbeque, which is growing more popular as time goes on.
Pizza Hut don't offer a large range of desserts, but this isn't really surprising seen as most customers are too full to even finish their pizza. What they do offer is chocolate fudge cake, new york cheesecake, sticky toffee pudding, double chocolate sundae, the ice cream factory, and plain vanilla ice cream.
Having worked in 4 different stores, I feel I am reasonably qualified to comment on the cleanliness of Pizza Hut. It would seem that the busier the store is, the less time staff have to clean it. The busier the store is, the later it is open, and seen as staff don't get to leave 'until the job is done' corners get cut. I have left work at 3.30am before after shutting at 11pm, and still managers find something that has not been cleaned. But to be honest, at that time, nobody cares.
Then there's the really quiet ones. Now these are clean, because there's lots of time to get on with the jobs. But there is less money to fund the maintenance and so the store becomes to look worse. One would assume that such a company would know that the worse a store looks, the less customers will go in.
Then there's the happy medium stores. They have their peak times, and then their off peak, which enables staff to get on with jobs other than making food and serving customers.
I hope that explains why there can be such a difference within stores.
Pizza Hut has given their restaurants a bit of a revamp over the last year. Brighter lighting, better seating, and a change of uniform for the staff have all been introduced. I think they're trying to make themselves look like a better restaurant and get away from the fast food chain that people see them as. Seen as this is the reason they are so huge, you would think they would stay as they are. But I'm sure they know best.
Menu prices from store to store do change slightly. Again this depends upon how busy a store is. There is low, medium and high band restaurants, the higher the band, the higher the prices.
From the very beginning of training, servers are taught the rules of customer mania. We are taught to 'wow' the customers, to make sure that the order is taken as accurately as possible, to make sure the maintenance of the hut is as good as possible, product quality needs to be at its highests, and then speed. Pizza Hut prides itself on fast food times. I'll let you in on a little secret, we have 30 seconds to see to a customer waiting at the door, 3 minutes to take an order, and a further 3 minutes to get drinks to the table. We are allowed 9.5 minutes to get starters out, 17.5 minutes to get main course meals out, and a further 3 minutes to get the bill the customer. There a regular mystery customers who come in and check us on this, and if we get less than 90% we have one unhappy manager. So staff do generally adhere to this. Not only does this satisfy the customer, it allows a greater turnover of customers, so if you feel rushed, don't blame the poor waitress who would probably much prefer to be not rushed herself, it's just how Pizza Hut works.
Newly introduced is customer mania plus - servers have to make the customers feel as if the service was personal to them. This can be a very hard job as the majority of customers are not interested in talking to the waitress, and just want to enjoy their meal.
It is more than likely that when you visit a store, you will get that over the top american customer service, but isn't that what Pizza Hut is all about?
If you visit a Pizza Hut at night, you will get that more relaxed restaurant feel about the place. However, visit during the weekends or school holidays, and you will find parties of young children screaming and running about, and you may just feel that you are in the middle of a playground.
On the whole, Pizza Hut is a good place to eat now ana again. The food is delicious, though not value for money (but what restaurant is?), you will get good service, and if anything goes wrong with your meal, you will probably get a free meal next time!
Nice work. The balance was pleasant to see but there is insight as well into how this goliath works. I feel its lost something these days.
grapesoda 13.04.2007 17:42
The margarita italian pan is my fave x
voyagerdude220 12.08.2006 18:46
I liked the Sicilian pizza tbh. But I definately prefer Dominos Pizza. You, at Pizza Hut blimmin fry the pizza dough, whilst Dominos & many other traditional Italian restaurants use fresh dough balls. This is why i don't like Pizza Hut. I've also had a very bad experience with Pizza Hut delivery in Blackburn, and they gave me a refund eventually, but nicked my large pizza which was cold, and un edible in the first place.. Great review though. It's just that Dominos is currently closed in Blackburn. Ian