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Pizza Hut is now doing something that other pizzerias have been doing for decades: selling pizza by the slice.
Today, Pizza Hut is opening two restaurants in York, Neb., and Pawtucket, R. I.,that will sell individual slices for $2 to $3. The slices are cut from Pizza Hut's new 18-inch pizza, available exclusively at new stores.
While these are the only two stores offering by-the-slice pizza right now, the chain aims to bring the concept to new restaurants throughout 2014 and beyond.
"Our decision to introduce the next generation of restaurants was based solely on our desire to meet the needs of all consumers, and one of those needs is a fast, great on the go pizza," says Doug Terfehr, Pizza Hut's director of public relations.
In addition to selling pizza by the slice, Pizza Hut, a top 10 franchise on Entrepreneur's 2014 Franchise 500 list, plans to outfit new stores with digital menu boards, deck ovens and a wide open dining environment. The chain will also continue to sell classics such as the Pan pizza.
With growing interest in the fast-casual pizza business, Pizza Hut's shift to restaurants that feel more open than the typical fast-food venture makes sense. Chipotle recently financed Pizza Locale, a Denver restaurant that aims to find a happy medium between delivery pizza and upscale Italian. In the coming year, the co-founders of California Pizza Kitchen plan to debut a fast-casual concept, as does the Italian brand Fazoli's.
Offering pizza by the slice typically cuts customer wait time - another draw for restuarants. Speed of service, always an issue for chains, has recently been a top concern for fast-food franchises as wait times have reportedly lengthened across the board. McDonald's, one of the chains hit the hardest by long wait times, has cycled through several concepts to cut the time, including cutting time-consuming menu items and installing a third drive-thru window.