Like a bad hair stylist, Pizza Hut has decided to give you something you didn't ask for: A single slice of Pizza Hut pizza. Two of the pizza chain's restaurants, one in Nebraska and one in Rhode Island, will begin to offer pizza by the slice on Tuesday, testing out a new format idea borrowed from New York City's finest (and not-so-finest) pizzerias.
"We're seeing the trends for quick and ready products," Carrie Walsh, Pizza Hut's chief marketing officer, explained to the AP. The "quick and ready products" she is referring to is quick serve joints like Chipotle, which can give you an inexpensive made-to-order
1 lb. food comas burrito in just minutes. In October, The Wall Street Journal reported that Chipotle's profits jumped 15 percent. That kind of money is obviously something companies want, especially Pizza Hut's parent company, Yum Brands Inc., which had its 11-year profit growth streak snapped in the same month Chipotle revealed its good fortune.
Things are going so well, in fact, that the Mexican chain is getting into the pizza biz. They recently launched a spin-off restaurant called Pizzeria Locale, that offers custom-made pies that can be cooked and served in under two minutes.
So in order to keep up, Pizza Hut and other brands think the key is offering better, "quick and ready" fast food like its pizza by the slice. Little Caesar's has found some success with their "Hot and Ready" pies, full pizzas that are cooked in bulk for customers who want to walk in off the street and take out without ordering ahead of time. It's not just pizza either. McDonald's unveiled a build-your-own-burger concept in Orange County, California, and KFC created a KFC Eleven, a more up-scale fried chicken restaurant with menu items like garlic-infused smashed potatoes and a promised "Mexican food" night.
However, Pizza Hut's pizza by the slice makes you wonder if it's tapping a dry well. Why would you need pizza by the slice when you have already have the option of personal pan pizzas (invented years ago by Pizza Hut) and breadsticks and chicken wings and the bottomless salad bar and... what were we talking about again?
According to Pizza Hut, the company will continue to test the concept throughout the year and then figure out how or if they should proceed.