Pizza Hut is known the world over for its stuffed crusts, and with more than 11,139 branches worldwide, it is to pizza dough what McDonald’s is to the burger.
But creative director Chloe Cahill and photographer Ho Hai Tran were drawn to the restaurant franchise for another reason entirely. ‘What really attracted us were the strong visual features that these buildings have,’ says Tran. ‘They’re very distinct – they evoke certain memories from our childhood.’
Pizza Huts built during the 1970s, 80s and 90s featured the brand’s staple ‘Red Roof’ design and trapezium-shaped windows. Many of those restaurants have closed down over the years as the company turned its focus to deliveries and take-aways.
Tran and Cahill have photographed more than 100 of these former dine-in Pizza Huts across Australia, New Zealand and the USA for their Pizza Hunt book project, which explores the ‘second lives’ of these buildings.
‘It is fascinating to see how businesses have breathed new life into the buildings, how they are reinterpreted as a new brand and what lengths they go to either disguise or embrace the past,’ says Tran.
Today, many operate as pawnshops, mini-marts, funeral homes and liquor stores.
Tran admits that the Huts are not the most aesthetically compelling, but says the cookie-cutter structures ooze a certain charm. ‘As a child growing up in New Zealand during the 1990s, the local Pizza Hut was a place of wonder – a world of red checked tablecloths, pizza by the slice and an endless supply of soft serve.’
Cahill and Tran are currently running a Kickstarter campaign to turn their project into a photobook.