This Was The First Pizza Hut in Grand Rapids, And It’s Still There
Pizza Hut, probably the original pizza chain in the U.S., has been around for more than 68-years. And it has almost been that long that Grand Rapids has had a Pizza Hut restaurant.
In 1968, this was the first Pizza Hut in Grand Rapids on Plainfield Avenue, and amazingly is still there.
PLAINFIELD PIZZA HUT 1968
It had to be about 1968 or before, that the Plainfield location opened, much to the delight of the North East side. It kept remodeling and changing it's image, but has been in the same spot for ever.
PLAINFIELD PIZZA HUT 1986
PLAINFIELD PIZZA HUT TODAY
But, guess what? That was not the first Pizza Hut in the Greater Grand Rapids area? It was August of 1966 that the very first area Pizza Hut opened at 132 28th Street, SW, in Wyoming.
WYOMING PIZZA HUT TODAY
It's shocking that, that very first Grand Rapids area original Pizza Hut is still around. It sure doesn't look like it did back then.
So, where did Pizza Hut come from anyway?
It's a great story that began in 1958. Two brothers, Dan and Frank Carney, borrowed $600 from their mom to open a pizza place in Wichita, Kansas. They named it Pizza Hut. Why Pizza Hut? Because their sign only had room for eight letters. True story!
The Carney's, both Wichita State students, started with a single location in Wichita. Six months later they opened a second outlet, and within a year they were operating six locations. Whoa! These guys were on fire!
The next year, 1959, they began franchising and the chain kinda went crazy!
Here's an interesting piece of their history, and it concerns Michigan State Football no less. Pizza Hut created their first ever television commercial in 1965 to try TV out. They ran it in the Notre Dame and Michigan State football game, considered the "Game of the Century," back then. Take a look!
They didn't have much money back then, and had to beg family, neighbors and friends to produce the spot that was to run in the game.
Well guess what? Pizza Hut went crazy after it ran, and the Carney's and Pizza Hut never looked back.
50 Most Popular Chain Restaurants in America
Gallery Credit: Paul Feinstein