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UTBAPH
March 9, 2014 7:21 PM   Subscribe

A catalog of places that used to be a Pizza Hut. The iconic "Red Roof" design was the subject of a recent episode of 99% Invisible (previously).
posted by Cash4Lead (74 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
You could do this with Taco Bells also.

In fact you could do some kind of combination used to be a Pizza Hut and Taco Bell tumblr.
posted by eyeballkid at 7:29 PM on March 9 [22 favorites]


God, I love places that just barely change iconic architectural elements like this. It shows a bit of moxie and seems so hopeful for businesses just starting out.
posted by xingcat at 7:31 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


Interesting. The franchisee that has operated most Pizza Huts in this region since the mid 90s always removes the big red roof when they shut down/move a store. Back when they were corporate owned, that did not happen, so there were quite a few yellow, blue, and brown roofs in town.
posted by wierdo at 7:35 PM on March 9


There once was a website, Not Fooling Anybody, about restaurant conversions. It was the subject of posts here in 2004 and 2006. Sadly, notfoolinganybody.com is mostly defunct, with the only remaining content being a gazetteer of sorts of original restaurant building styles.
posted by plastic_animals at 7:36 PM on March 9 [3 favorites]


I've always known these as "hermit crab restaurants".
posted by gimonca at 7:39 PM on March 9 [21 favorites]


Reddit/r/Australia: Once a Pizza Hut, always a Pizza Hut.

Also: Reddit/r/NotFoolingAnybody - "a place to post pictures of former chain businesses that have been converted to other uses, yet still strongly resemble their former use."
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 7:40 PM on March 9 [4 favorites]


(And so did people here in the blue in 2006...possibly that's where I got it.)
posted by gimonca at 7:40 PM on March 9


Even more distinctive than Pizza Hut: IHOP
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 7:41 PM on March 9 [3 favorites]


I love that this blog grew out of coping with the Pittsburgh habit of giving directions based on things that aren't there anymore.
posted by octothorpe at 7:42 PM on March 9 [10 favorites]


There is a now vacant, previously Thai, previously Indian, originally IHOP near my home. Trying to eat curry in a place still deeply haunted by the odor of maple syrup is a disconcerting experience indeed
posted by ook at 7:43 PM on March 9 [6 favorites]


Oh god I posted about that same IHOP in the 2006 thread too

I'm that old guy who keeps telling the same stories over and over Buy me a rocking chair and put me out to pasture
posted by ook at 7:45 PM on March 9 [28 favorites]


Here in Hollywood, famous pop-up chef Ludo Lefebvre (nyt) opened up shop inside a Raffalo's pizza, and didn't bother to change the signage. (not nyt) You buy tickets to dinner instead of ordering; prix fixe only.
posted by phaedon at 7:50 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]


When I was a kid, we did a class project once coming up with all the different things we could find that were now located inside restaurants that had been Red Barns, which had shut down a few years before, as well as coming up with ideas for other things that you could put into a building that looked like a very impractical glass-fronted barn.
posted by Sequence at 7:54 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


You Can Tell Area Bank Used To Be A Pizza Hut
posted by Cookiebastard at 7:57 PM on March 9 [3 favorites]


Moe's Southwest Grill has made a business out of opening new restaurants in these variously distinctive buildings: Pizza Hut, Dunkin Donuts, IHOP, etc. (At least, around MA that's what they do.) I've always thought it's an interesting business strategy from a branding perspective, and I've wondered if there is a case study written on it.
posted by cribcage at 8:00 PM on March 9


Around here we need a blog for "One-off 'nondenominational' churches that obviously used to be car dealerships."
posted by ob1quixote at 8:04 PM on March 9 [6 favorites]


The repurposed old Arby's are great too, like Fred Flintstone opened an insurance agency.
posted by thelonius at 8:07 PM on March 9 [3 favorites]


My hometown's the only place I know where the Pizza Hut got so much eat-in/sit-down business, they built a bigger one down the street.

The original is now painted yellow and was a taco place, last time I was there.
posted by mrbill at 8:08 PM on March 9


churches that obviously used to be car dealerships

Here in the 'City of Churches' it's a case of offices that used to be church buildings.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 8:09 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


Not to mention the funeral home across from the middle school, formerly a mexican restaurant.

It was slightly disturbing to have my great-grandmother's funeral in the same room where I'd wolfed down a taco platter a few years before... they park the hearse in what used to be the drive-thru.
posted by mrbill at 8:10 PM on March 9 [8 favorites]


Trying to eat curry in a place still deeply haunted by the odor of maple syrup is a disconcerting experience indeed

That sounds uniquely Canadian, somehow.

And now I want curry.

Damn you
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:12 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


Around here we need a blog for "One-off 'nondenominational' churches that obviously used to be car dealerships."

Old big box stores too.

Then there is the phenomenon of the upscale diner that used to be a car dealership, which our town now boasts.
posted by Cash4Lead at 8:13 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


Moody's Falafel Palace. Totally not a White Castle.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:13 PM on March 9


This laundromat around the corner from me obviously used to be a White Tower (defunct chain that was a clone of White Castles).
posted by octothorpe at 8:21 PM on March 9


The Law Offices of Peter Francis Geraci
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 8:21 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]


smart growth
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 8:30 PM on March 9


We used to have a great number of Chinese takeout places that had moved into former Rax locations--right down to the faded ghost of a "RAX" logo on the wood siding.
posted by gimonca at 8:38 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


Ooh, ooh, I know of one.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:49 PM on March 9


You Can Tell Area Domino's Used to Be A Bank
posted by wikipedia brown boy detective at 8:51 PM on March 9 [3 favorites]


Dayton has a former Wympee burger, and a former White Tower (who knew there were knock-off White Castles?) all by/in the Oregon district. The pet store near my son's daycare is a new building built on the site of a closed Pizza Hut. Had they repurposed the original building it wouldn't have been on par with mortuary/taco joint but it certainly would have been a bit... off.
posted by combinatorial explosion at 8:51 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


The worst I've seen is a Wendy's that briefly became the local Romney election HQ. Where's the beef indeed
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:58 PM on March 9 [4 favorites]


I want to see this for Used To Be a Taco Bell (Every Del Taco east of the Mississippi) and Used To Be a KFC (RIP Smokin' Al's BBQ, St. Louis, MO).

Honorable mentions for every Pentecostal Church of Christ our Lord Jesus with a parking lot that clearly used to have gas pumps.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:02 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


In my hometown in Pennsylvania we had a place called "Donuts Delite," which must have been a franchise, I think. In Williamsport I remember seeing a place that had the same color exterior and the same sign lettering, except it was called "Donut Deli" and as I recall it was rather apparent that some of the letters were missing from the sign.
posted by MoonOrb at 9:17 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]


It's not on the map, but some 16, 17 years ago, there was a former Pizza Hut in Michigan City, IN, that was home to an adult book and novelty shop.

Or so the sign said DON'T JUDGE ME!
posted by bryon at 9:19 PM on March 9


There are a number of places locally that used to be Taco Bells, with the iconic masonry facade, and apparently Taco Bell has come back and forced them to alter the buildings and remove the curvy top part with the bell hole or something. Even places that have been not-Taco-Bells for quite some time (i.e. more than a decade) have been altered fairly recently (last 5 years or so). It might partially be because around there the ex-Bells invariably end up being taco shops and there actually is a sort of legitimate concern about brand identity (random taco shop is almost always better than Taco Bell). Of course, almost any food service establishment whose original owners vacate around here turns into a taco shop.
posted by LionIndex at 9:42 PM on March 9


"No posts matching the query: covered with daisies."
posted by creade at 10:39 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]


There once was a website, Not Fooling Anybody, about restaurant conversions. It was the subject of posts here in 2004 and 2006. Sadly, notfoolinganybody.com is mostly defunct, with the only remaining content being a gazetteer of sorts of original restaurant building styles.

The Facebook group has an album that looks like it covers most of the content of the old site. My favorite there is probably the Exaco. Interestingly, it looks like a lot of the early content of this Pizza Hut specific blog comes straight out of NFA.

In terms of name conversions I've always wondered about a restaurant I've seen billboards for around here called Catfish O'Harlie's. Surely that used to be a place named Catfish Charlie's?
posted by kmz at 10:55 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


It's nice to know I'm not the only one to see the ghosts of Country Kitchens everywhere.
posted by benzenedream at 11:17 PM on March 9


I find the idea of this blog really amusing and the writing really off-putting. The bit about all of China having 1 font just rubbed me the wrong way a bit, and then I got to this:
"Canelo" is Spanish for "Stripper." Actually, it directly translates to "Cinnamon," which is the name of at least 40% of all strippers, so it is not a direct translation, but that is the assumed meaning in this case.

Now that we fulfilled our cultural educational requirements for the day, let's get to the fun part.
Gross.
posted by NoraReed at 11:43 PM on March 9 [3 favorites]


The goggles, they do nothing!. (IHOP => title loan place)

Oh, there's also this Taco John's that is now a completely different title loan place.

On the other hand, this old-style 1970s Taco Bell (with the arched arcade and a "real" bell) was vacant for a number of years until it was renovated into a bland box, at which time ... a title loan place moved in.

Both our original Pizza Huts are still Pizza Huts, though. I feel cheated.
posted by dhartung at 12:19 AM on March 10


This was something of interest to The Onion, literally 14 years ago. I kind of think it works more as a one-note bit like that.
posted by disillusioned at 12:52 AM on March 10


Metafilter: deeply haunted by the odor of maple syrup
posted by ArgentCorvid at 2:15 AM on March 10 [2 favorites]


You could make a really good one of these out of old dunkin donuts shops too. There's as far as i know, none left in my town. But the storefronts themselves are incredibly identifiable.

Oddly enough one of them is now a snooty wine bar... And yes, it still looks like a decrepit donut shop with listing roof eaves from the outside.
posted by emptythought at 2:40 AM on March 10


Somebody could also set up a tumblr called Used To Not Be A Subway.

I can contribute the giant faded-to-pink red barn building a couple miles from here, near the railroad tracks, that until a year and a half ago was a hamburger and soft serve ice cream stand. It's disconcerting and a little sad to see an independent mom-and-pop shop get replaced by a different mom-and-pop shop serving tasteless food and shipping most of its proceeds to a corporate office somewhere out of town.
posted by ardgedee at 3:53 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


Corporations are mom and pop, my friends.
posted by thelonius at 3:57 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


Anyone who has actually had the misfortune of sampling their cuisine will agree:

Whatever it is, THANK GOD IT'S NO LONGER A PIZZA HUT.


*shudder*
posted by louche mustachio at 4:33 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


Whatever it is, THANK GOD IT'S NO LONGER A PIZZA HUT.

Yeah, I never did figure out the attraction.
posted by octothorpe at 4:37 AM on March 10


octothorpe: "Yeah, I never did figure out the attraction"

Trans Fats.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 4:41 AM on March 10


I guess that if it was your only choice but I've never lived anywhere without much better pizza options.
posted by octothorpe at 5:11 AM on March 10


One time when I was a kid my parents and I went to Pizza Hut, but they were out of pizza dough, so we went home (and presumably, ate something better.) That is my Pizza Hut story.
posted by quaking fajita at 5:43 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


Who better to fill that cavity than a penguin?

"I'd like to withdraw a pastrami on rye."

(I actually appreciate that the city preserved these little pieces of Santa Monica history.)
posted by Room 641-A at 6:07 AM on March 10


In addition to the Pizza Hut turned bbq place here in Ithaca, NY, we've got a lawyer's office that used to be a McDonalds.

That said, this site looks fairly lame and only sporadically maintained, and their email link isn't even a link.

> octothorpe: "Yeah, I never did figure out the attraction"
Trans Fats.


Actually it's the infamous combination of trans fats, salt -- and high fructose corn syrup. The defining characteristic of Pizza Hut pizza is the unusual sweetness of both the sauce and the dough.
posted by aught at 6:22 AM on March 10


The former Pizza Hut in my home town is apparently now a morgue, which is... weird.
posted by Archelaus at 6:35 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


The repurposed old Arby's are great too, like Fred Flintstone opened an insurance agency.

I remember a burger place in Austin that opened in an old Arby's. They called their restaurant Hat Creek Burger and just reused the sign. I always wondered which came first, buying the old Arby's or deciding on a hat theme for their restaurant.
posted by aka burlap at 6:38 AM on March 10


Me: That said, this site looks fairly lame and only sporadically maintained, and their email link isn't even a link.

Never mind. Somehow I was on the Map tab, which has the map and an ad only, but I see now the Home tab is where the recent action is.

Also, the info on our local PH turned other on the map is incorrect, which also added to the sense of lameness. But the bloglike home page is reasonably interesting.
posted by aught at 6:49 AM on March 10


I would just like to say that Burien ThaiHop, as I call it, actually serves very good Thai food.
posted by bq at 6:51 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: deeply haunted by the odor of maple syrup

No, that's just the head gasket going on your car, leaking and burning antifreeze on to the hot engine.
posted by aught at 6:51 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


I Used To Be A Fotomat: part 1, part 2. I know there's one by me that's a locksmith.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:58 AM on March 10


Yeah, I never did figure out the attraction.

All you can eat pizza buffet that will fill up your screaming children for cheap plus some video games (Centipede in particular, tabletop version, seemed to be in every Pizza Hut in our town) they can use to burn off their Friday-night fidgets and also let the missus get a break from dinner and cleanup.

In high school, we went there for personal pan pizzas and unlimited soft drink refills at lunchtime. Compared to the school lunchroom or a sad sack lunch sandwich, it was a treat. We'd pile into my friend's tiny Chevy and speed there so we could make it back in time for 4th period.
posted by emjaybee at 7:38 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


octothorpe: "Yeah, I never did figure out the attraction."

Because in most of the country your choices for pizza are the big chains or some local place that makes just about the worst pizza possible because all of their product comes off the Sysco truck. Good pizza is simply not a thing that exists for a lot of people.
posted by wierdo at 8:47 AM on March 10 [4 favorites]


I have a magical combination from my hometown: Behold the UTBAPH adjacent to the UTBAIHOP.

The food at Tacqueria Arandas is actually pretty good, although for the first few years it was there I insisted on calling it the International House of Tacos.
posted by TypographicalError at 10:55 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


I see notfoolinganybody.com has gone defunct and been repurposed into a subreddit.
posted by ckape at 11:59 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


I always wanted to start one for old Taco Bell buildings from the 1960s-1980s, with the big arches in the front, but turns out someone already made a blog for it.
posted by mathowie at 12:06 PM on March 10


One of the interesting conversions we see here in Virginia are old Golden Skillet chicken locations. It was a pretty popular chain that started in Richmond and grew to over 200 locations by the '80s. What stands out about many of the conversions is that they often keep the original pan-shaped sign.

Here is one on W. Broad Street in Richmond. It has had other incarnations prior to this, and I think it may have been a Chinese takeout place when I lived a few blocks away 20+ years ago. Dry cleaners took over a few of the locations here in the Hampton Roads area, and I've occasionally seen Golden Skillet conversions in other states.

Here is one in Oklahoma City, mentioned in the previous link.

And finally, the gem of my image search, a Golden Skillet in a former Pizza Hut!
posted by gimli at 12:32 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


Golden Skillets are almost gone? Aw, darnit.
posted by JanetLand at 1:40 PM on March 10


The county Morgue in Yakima, Washinton used to be a Pizza Hut.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 3:04 PM on March 10


Archelaus, so you escaped the Yakima Gulag?
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 3:06 PM on March 10


I worked at Pizza Slut (sorry, that's what we called it) one hot miserable summer in Peoria, Illinois. I remember the training video talked about the fact that they had a patent on the paint color for their roofs.

I don't know if it's the soft focus of my childhood talking, but I remember Pizza Hut serving an entirely different brand of food before they became the race-to-the-bottom-what-can-we-put-cheese-in-next PepsiBlue that they are today. They were PepsiCo owned by the time I worked there in my 20s, and by the end of the summer the only thing I could eat was a personal thin crust with mushrooms. Never the pan pizza. My god, never the pan pizza.
posted by mcstayinskool at 4:54 PM on March 10


mcstayinskool, you are not alone in that. Pizza Hut's original, thin-crust pizza, even as recently as maybe ten or 20 years ago, was actually not half bad and was somewhat reminiscent of old-school American pizzeria pizza (of the sort that made its way in a wave across the U.S. mostly in the 1950s and is still found in many family-owned joints, many in college towns). But I think that probably all went to hell in a handbasket when Pizza Hut went corporate.
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 6:24 PM on March 10


My dog's vet is in a former Wendy's. It's disconcerting.
posted by dreaming in stereo at 6:34 PM on March 10


My pediatrician's office is now a vet's office. It's very disconcerting.
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 6:39 PM on March 10


Found it! Funeral Home UTBA Taco Joint on Street View.

Right across the street from what was my junior high, and is now the Middle School.

And in this shot, you can see the Taco Mayo (that was originally the old Pizza Hut painted yellow), and the new, bigger PH that was built two blocks down the road.

Going into a PH for a sit-down dinner seems to be an alien concept here in Houston; I have friends who have never seen a PH that wasn't delivery-only.
posted by mrbill at 3:24 PM on March 19


A couple of days ago I discovered Dominos is experimenting with modular stores. Modular as in "built like a mobile home." Apparently there is one module that contains the kitchen and a tiny front of house for use as a delivery/carryout store and a dining room module that can be used if the store is to have dine in service.

Who needs architecture? Just truck in couple of shipping containers and call it a restaurant!
posted by wierdo at 2:16 PM on March 20


I worked at Pizza Slut (sorry, that's what we called it) one hot miserable summer in Peoria, Illinois.

People here called it that too, back in the (essentially) pre-Internet days of the early 1990s.

Pizza Hut in the 1970s and most of the '80s was a little bit fancy (but still family friendly as this advert attests although there is a much better one from earlier when PH opened, but I can't seem to find it), vastly different from what it became as the '90s rolled to a close - and here, now, most Pizza Huts are now little more than takeaway shopfronts.

And they had amazing staff uniforms.

There's a converted Pizza Hut here that is now a Chinese restaurant. They've made a few chinzy alterations, and raised a few red lanterns, but they aren't fooling anyone after 20 years.
posted by Mezentian at 3:35 AM on March 22


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