Putt Putt to Pizza Hut
There’s a Pizza Hut located right smack dab in the middle of the Wichita State University campus in Wichita, Kansas. You’ll find it nestled in a big grassy area right behind the WSU baseball field.
But, don’t come hungry because you won’t be able to nosh on any of Pizza Huts many delectable delights. This isn’t a restaurant, it’s a museum. And, it’s the very same building in which two WSU students, brothers Dan and Frank Carney, opened the very first Pizza Hut in 1958.
This isn’t the building’s original location. In fact, it’s been moved on two different occasions. It was moved from its original location, about four miles away, to the WSU campus in the 1980s. It was moved again and converted into the museum just five years ago in 2017.
The first thing that surprised me, really surprised me, was how small it is. It’s roughly 20 feet wide and 25 feet long. The kitchen and bar area in today’s Pizza Huts would not be a whole lot smaller than that.
Inside are modern museum displays telling the story of how Pizza Huts became what we are familiar with today. They include even items from that first restaurant like the original rolling pin the brothers used to roll out the dough.
Some of the fun trivia you learn while touring the museum:
The name “Pizza Hut” was suggested by Dan’s wife, Bev. She believed the name needed to include the word “pizza” and the small sign on the building would only hold eight letters.
The restaurant’s grand opening was delayed when some old bird nests in the second-hand oven caught fire when the brothers started it up.
The pair learned how to make pizza from a friend of their sister’s, John Bender. Bender had worked in a pizzeria before and knew how to make the sauce, but had never made the dough. His solution was to take a recipe out of the Encyclopedia of Cooking cookbook, not for pizza dough but for French bread. There was no time for the dough to rise before the opening so he just cooked it as it was. That’s why those of you who have been around for a few years will remember Pizza Hut’s crusts being so thin and crispy.
Of course the museum is packed with information about how the restaurant evolved, the beginning of franchisees, the design of its signature red roof buildings and more.
What I really enjoyed was seeing the advertising memorabilia and the old commercials bringing back memories of my youth.
The museum is free and self-guided. It’s a quick stop if you’re ever traveling through Wichita. I had a bit of a challenge locating it, not knowing exactly where it was, but if you just drive behind the baseball field it’s really easy to find. Parking was also available behind the field, just across the street from the museum.
While you’re there, you can pull up an old chair, sit down at the red and white checkered tablecloth, grab a napkin and pen, write down your favorite memory from Pizza Hut and share it with others by posting it on the board by the door.
**I allow use of my photos through Creative Commons License. I'm not looking to make money off this thing. I only ask you provide me with credit for the photo by noting my blog address, alansheaven.com, or a link back to this page.