When I was a kid one of my favorite restaurants was Pizza Hut. I actually preferred it over places like Chuck E. Cheese, Pistol Pete's & Peter Piper Pizza (Arizona franchise) even though those places had huge arcades & were a bit more kid friendly.
I remember Pizza Hut being a sit down restaurant with a big red roof on the outside. They were different than most restaurants at the time. You KNEW it was a Pizza Hut just by the roof alone, you could spot it a mile away.
What I liked about Pizza Hut was the not so much the pizza but the atmosphere. When you went in it looked like an actual restaurant with plush seating & booths with a red brick interior.
Or some of them would had a bistro type setting inside, both types would have a salad bar as well.
Though they didn't have an arcade, they usually had a table top video game. Most of them were Pac-Man & Donkey Kong but I do remember Tecmo Bowl was at one of the ones I went to.
My favorite time was go was for dinner since it was always a little dark inside & the lighting was dim. I also remember there being a candle at your table. When you went inside there was someone that would seat you and they would give you a menu and a real server would take your order. They'd bring you a pitcher of soda, I'm pretty sure I remember my dad ordering beer as well. They'd give you those big red see through plastic cups to drink out of, with the crushed ice and for some reason I think Coke tasted better in them.
I used to love the promotions they did for movies too. The two I remember the most were the Land Before Time & Casper puppets. When the Land Before Time was in theaters my nana used take me to see it at the dollar movies all the time, afterwards she'd take me to Pizza Hut and order a pizza & buy me one the Land Before Time puppets. We went there so much, I ended up getting all of them. I was kinda spoiled but at the time I was her only grandchild & I only visited her when I saw my dad (parents divorced when I was 4, I lived in Phoenix, AZ they lived in Tucson, AZ about 2 hours apart)
I was little older when the Casper puppets came out, I was about 12 but it was my favorite movie at the time I had a HUGE crush on Christina Ricci and I would pretty much collect anything Casper related. I even collected the Casper trading cards. My little brother had Stretch, that I ended up taking (stealing) it with me back to Phoenix lol, which completed my collection. I don't even think my little brother noticed.
They even has a streetball basket ball for like $5. I think it was to promote the NCAA Final Four at the time. It was in 94 I believe (before the Casper promotion) because I had the ball & I took it to school almost every day in 4th grade and played with my friends (even though I sucked because I was the shortest person).
The last promo for kids I remember Pizza Hut doing was the Pizza Head commercials. They were very similar to Mr. Bill. They a pizza slicer named Steve who was sort of the â€œbad guyâ€, which usually ended up causing Pizza Head some sort of pain. Pretty sure he came about in the mid to late 90's.
A few years ago I started reflecting back on all the fun memories I had eating at Pizza Hut, whether it was celebrating after a little league game or just a family outing, I always had a good time. I wanted to capture that feeling again. So I called my cousin & asked him if he wanted to eat at Pizza Hut, and we ended up meeting at the location I had gone to when I was younger. It no longer had that famous red roof but I didn't think anything of it. I went in and was completely shocked. It had that cheap plastic seating, there was nobody there to seat you at a table and you ordered your pizza from a giant menu on the wall like McDonald's. I was crushed, it just didn't feel right. I'm pretty sure the quality of the pizza went down too. Sadly all the fond memories were gone & Pizza Hut is no longer a restaurantâ€¦. it's a fast food joint.