This time, the rumors proved to be true.
On September 8, according to parent company NPC International Inc., the Salem Pizza Hut permanently closed its doors. For years, the restaurant at 1224 West Main Street provided countless afterschool and weekend memories for families.
Said Salem native Charlie Edwards, “Me and my buddies used to visit the Pizza Hut at least once a week in high school. They got to know us pretty well in there, especially during football season.”
Samantha Cruz, 26, said a meal at Pizza Hut was a special occasion as a kid. “My parents couldn’t afford to eat out often. Growing up, I knew that if I found a pizza coupon, there was a good chance my dad would use it. I can’t tell you how many coupons I gave my parents throughout my youth.”
In 2013, John Robinson says he visited the Salem Pizza Hut for the first time. His last visit to the eatery was in August. Cruz, Edwards and Robinson all say they heard about the restaurant’s closing on social media.
NPC International owns approximately 1,200 Pizza Huts nationwide under Yum! Brands. Other restaurants under the banner include Wendy’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Taco Bell. Waves of layoffs continue to happen during the pandemic. Many restaurants have either had to close dining to the public or completely shut down.
Numerous other Pizza Hut restaurants throughout the Roanoke Valley have also closed. For some positions, the company is working to offer severance and unemployment benefits. In its bankruptcy filing the company said it was going to focus on smaller locations that can handle online ordering.
“As part of our restructuring process, we made the very difficult decision to close the Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Salem, Hershberger and Brandon Avenue Pizza Hut restaurants. We did not make these decisions lightly, and we are committed to providing support to impacted employees, including providing transfer to other NPC or Yum! Brand locations, wherever possible,” said a company spokesperson.
They added, “Ultimately, these actions will best position our remaining restaurant business for success. NPC continues to operate many other Pizza Hut restaurants across the country that remain open for business, supported by our 23,000 dedicated employees who are ready to serve our customers.”