Photography series shows how Pizza Hut restaurants have changed

The original Pizza Hut restaurant (pictured) were built by the thousands across the world until their decline in the late 1990s
  • Photographer and writer have traveled across Australia, America and New Zealand to capture old Pizza Huts 
  • The Sydney-based pair have photographed more than 100 Pizza Huts in their travels 
  •  Want to share the nostalgic memories with the public in a hand crafted book 

Most people who grew up in the 80s or 90s fondly remember celebrating birthdays and gathering for family dinners under the distinct bright red tiled roof of a Pizza Hut.

The family focused fast-food restaurant was once America’s biggest pizza chain with locations across the world, but since the late 90s it has fallen into a steady decline.

So, what happened to the thousands of Pizza Hut restaurants that closed their doors? 

The former Pizza Hut that is now a Salvation Army that sparked Mr Tran and Ms Cahill Kickstarter project titled Pizza Hunt

The former Pizza Hut that is now a Salvation Army that sparked Mr Tran and Ms Cahill Kickstarter project titled Pizza Hunt

IGA grocery store in Frankston, VIC, Australia: the store has received a new paint job but kept the iconic hut roof

IGA grocery store in Frankston, VIC, Australia: the store has received a new paint job but kept the iconic hut roof

Sydney-based writer and photographer team Chloe Cahill and Ho Hai Tran told Daily Mail Australia on Friday that they are trying to answer that question with their new project – Pizza Hunt.

The duo have spent the last two years travelling across Australia, New Zealand and the U.S., where the chain was founded, to take photos of what has become of previous Pizza Hut stores and if they have been demolished or another business has moved in.

Mr Tran, the photographer, and Ms Cahill, the creative director, are hoping to turn the 100 images of retired Pizza Hut buildings into a book and ‘time piece’ that will outlast the chain’s demise.

Seoul Hoikwan Restaurant in Belfield, NSW, Australia: the tiled roof turned from bright red to a dark green 

Seoul Hoikwan Restaurant in Belfield, NSW, Australia: the tiled roof turned from bright red to a dark green 

Olsens Funerals, Revesby, NSW, Australia: the restaurant lost it's hut shaped roof and the windows got a face lift 

Olsens Funerals, Revesby, NSW, Australia: the restaurant lost it's hut shaped roof and the windows got a face lift 

They launched a Kickstarter campaign this month to fund the printing and binding of the Pizza Hunt books with the goal of raising $20,000 by the end of October.

As of Friday, 79 people had donated nearly $9,000 to the project.

Ms Cahill and Mr Tran said the support from those who have pledged money to the project has reinforced their belief that these hut-shaped buildings are nostalgic for most people and remind them of their childhood.

North Geelong, VIC, Australia: the former restaurant was demolished after it closed and no one has rebuilt on the foundation 

North Geelong, VIC, Australia: the former restaurant was demolished after it closed and no one has rebuilt on the foundation 

‘The nostalgia is really strong. These iconic buildings have such a strong shape to them and it brings to mind those special moments,’ Mr Tran said.

Ms Cahill said that when she has described the project to people they got ‘really excited’ and smile as they recollect a fond memory they have of Pizza Hut, such as ‘eating too many marshmallows at the sundae bar.’

‘We definitely don’t completely understand why these buildings make, not just us, but lots of people feel the way they feel but this is our way of understanding that,’ Ms Cahill said.

The limited edition of the book titled the Clamshell, which is sold at a reduced price and comes in a pizza box

The limited edition of the book titled the Clamshell, which is sold at a reduced price and comes in a pizza box

The Great Wall, Glendale Heights, IL, USA: This former restaurant has been turned into a Chinese eatery... but could do with a new carpark

The Great Wall, Glendale Heights, IL, USA: This former restaurant has been turned into a Chinese eatery... but could do with a new carpark

Simply Stereo, Hoffman Estates, IL, USA: the stereo store painted the roof but kept some of the red bricked exterior and wide windows

Simply Stereo, Hoffman Estates, IL, USA: the stereo store painted the roof but kept some of the red bricked exterior and wide windows

Ms Cahill and Mr Tran, who have collaborated on previous photojournalism projects together, said they got the idea for Pizza Hunt when they drove by a former Pizza Hut building that is now a Salvation Army in Liverpool, NSW, about 32km south-west of Sydney.

‘We drove past it a few times and noticed how funny it was that it immediately made us recall going to Pizza Huts as kids,’ Mr Tran said.

They then began googling old Pizza Hut restaurants and started accumulating photos.

Although the process to find the former restaurants was not easy at times, it was exciting, Ms Cahill said.

Copycat, California, PA, USA: the former Pizza Hut lost the red roof but kept the brightred front door and window panels

Copycat, California, PA, USA: the former Pizza Hut lost the red roof but kept the brightred front door and window panels

Los Burritos Mexicanos, St Charles, IL, USA: the former Italian restaurant has taken on a Mexican twist and redesign of the windows

Los Burritos Mexicanos, St Charles, IL, USA: the former Italian restaurant has taken on a Mexican twist and redesign of the windows

Some new businesses that had moved in embraces the iconic Pizza Hut look and kept the distinctive windows and hut-shaped roof the same, while others had renovated the building, Mr Tran said.

After scouring Australia for photos, the team headed to the U.S. and travelled around the country hunting down the buildings – even scouring online reviews and google maps with the hope of spotting the familiar architectural style, Ms Cahill said.

If the fundraising is successful the $20,000 mark is reached, Pizza Hunt can be printed and bound into a cloth book as planned, and Mr Tran and Ms Cahill will organize a book launch which will be attended by the people who donate.

West Palm Beach, FL, USA; the tiled red roof is the same but like the parking lot, the building is vacant

West Palm Beach, FL, USA; the tiled red roof is the same but like the parking lot, the building is vacant

Church of Our Savior, Boynton Beach, FL, USA: what was once the scene of birthday parties is now a place of prayer for some

Church of Our Savior, Boynton Beach, FL, USA: what was once the scene of birthday parties is now a place of prayer for some

Philip Langdon, a journalist specializing in building planning, has written a forward for the book.

Mr Langdon previously wrote “Orange Roofs and Golden Arches” about fast food architecture and how it is not typically considered beautiful but is a very prevalent part of our society, Mr Tran said.

There are 19 days left on the Kickstarter campaign, which is accompanied with example of the images that will be included.

‘For anyone who’s ever made a mountain of mini marshmallows on their self-serve sundae, maxed out on free refills at the drink fountain or driven past a hut and felt its strange allure – this book’s for you,’ Mr Tran said. 

House of joy, Glendale CA, USA: the pizza restaurant is now a Chinese restaurant and kept the iconic windows

House of joy, Glendale CA, USA: the pizza restaurant is now a Chinese restaurant and kept the iconic windows

The Pizza Hunt book (pictured left) that Sydney-based photographer Ho Hai Tran (right) and Chloe Cahill are fundraising to print

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By Mathias Dillion 10/10/2015 02:05:00
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