Pizza Hut in the U.K. is rolling out a new look for its restaurants, following a trial conducted in Birmingham, England. The makeover is the result of a realization that the market for affordable casual dining restaurants in the U.K. is not just mature, but may actually be oversupplied, according to Andy Turnbull, creative director at Checkland Kindleysides (Leicester, England), who worked on the project. With U.S. operators such as KFC, Subway and Burger King, as well as local outfits Pizza Express and Strada, all vying for the same time-limited, budget-conscious customer, success is about more than having a High Street presence.
Noting that Pizza Hut’s rivals have invested significantly in restaurant design, Turnbull says designers created the “Alpha Hut” (as the new format is known internally), which bears very little resemblance to Pizza Huts of old. Specifically, the format features a greater degree of design, including new materials and finishes, such as lighter woods and metallic surface vinyls, as well as richer upholstery for the seating.
The other major difference is the focus on the food. In the U.K., Pizza Hut has always placed great emphasis on its salad bar. “It’s about noticing generosity – this is one of the ‘free’ bits,” says Turnbull.
To ensure it gets proper notice, designers highlighted the salad bar using high-quality color rendition LED lamps. “It’s amazing how often restaurants at this end of the market are washed with light, rather than lighting the food displays and then considering ambient light after that,” says Turnbull. All of the seating in the restaurant is also positioned so that diners face the salad area.
The new restaurant design is about rekindling consumers’ desire to dine in an environment that makes them feel good about being in Pizza Hut, says Turnbull. After all, affordable casual dining needn’t feel cheap.
Retailer: Pizza Hut U.K. - Sanjiv Razdan, brand development director; Debbie Mildenstein, head of design and construction; Neil Woodward, construction manager
Design Firm: Checkland Kindleysides, Leicester, U.K. - Joe Keating, senior designer; Andy Turnbull, principal creative director; Lauragh Flood, junior designer; Janine Vincent, associate director
Flooring: Domus, London
Lighting: ERCO, London
Signage/Graphics: Gee Tee Signs, Nottingham, U.K.
General Contractor: DGPudney, London
Project management: ERM, London
Photographer: Paul Winch-Furness, London