The Pizza Hut at the corner of Green and Fifth Street has been a Campustown staple since the 1970s.
But its days of slinging pizza pies to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus community are now numbered. Jill Guth of commercial real estate firm Guth & Associates confirmed to chambanamoms.com that the building is now for lease. The dine-in restaurant will close its doors on March 31.
One of the last of freestanding restaurants in the core of Campustown, the building is owned by the Larson family, which also owns Joe’s Brewery across the street. Pizza Hut has been in that location since 1975, according to Daily Illini archives.
The closing may be related to the possible bankruptcy of its franchisee.
The Campustown Pizza Hut is owned by NPC Inc, Pizza Hut’s largest franchisee; all local Pizza Hut stores are operated by the firm, also known as National Pizza Company, which is in financial trouble.
“The operator of about 1,600 restaurants, including Pizza Hut and Wendy’s brands, recently defaulted on about $800 million of debt after it chose to skip loan payments. NPC then entered into a forbearance agreement with lenders to allow time to consider debt restructuring options, said the people,” wrote Bloomberg Business News on Feb. 19.
There is another sit-down, dine-in Pizza Hut restaurant in Champaign, located on Mattis Avenue; it is unknown at this time if the store will persist.
There is only one Pizza Hut carryout only store in the greater Champaign-Urbana area. It is located in Savoy near Schnuck’s, and as recently as this month posted a job opening for a general manager.
In August, Pizza Hut announced plans to close hundreds of dine-in restaurants across the country to focus on carryout and delivery businesses. At the time, news reports said the change would affect about 500 locations in the United States.