Four local Pizza Hut locations have closed abruptly — and apparently permanently.
A voice recording at locations in Dyersville, Manchester and Maquoketa, Iowa, as well as one of the two locations in Dubuque, indicated that the eateries have ceased operations.
“Thank you for calling Pizza Hut,” the message states. “We’re sorry, but this restaurant has closed. We apologize for any inconvenience.”
While the Pizza Hut at 320 E. 20th St. in Dubuque has closed, the one on University Avenue remains open for business, as do the locations in Platteville and Prairie du Chien, Wis.
The sudden closures are apparently linked to the bankruptcy of one of the chain’s largest franchisees.
NPC International filed for bankruptcy protection in July and confirmed last month that it would close up to 300 restaurants, although the specific timing and locations of those closures were not disclosed at that time.
In many of the small communities in which Pizza Hut operated, the closure marked an abrupt end to a decades-long run.
Karla Thompson, executive director of Dyersville Area Chamber of Commerce, said Pizza Hut has operated in Dyersville since at least 1986, when it joined the chamber.
“It has been a staple in our community for decades,” she said. “When a business like that closes, it is always sad.”
Chamber records indicate Pizza Hut had 17 employees at the Dyersville restaurant. Thompson noted that the eatery’s buffet was a particularly popular option, but the restaurant stopped offering it due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thompson compared the closure of Pizza Hut to the recent loss of Dyersville’s Shopko store, which closed last year.
“With both businesses, it isn’t like the locals didn’t support it,” she said. “There was a lot of support for the restaurant. When the owner isn’t here, it is hard to see the impact it can have on a community. People here are going to miss it.”
Pizza Hut had operated in Manchester since 1977, according to Manchester Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ali Manson.
She said the abrupt closure caught the community off guard.
“They were still serving pizzas Monday,” said Manson. “The employees learned about the closure on Tuesday morning. They were probably in shock.”
In Manchester, the business was more than just a place to eat.
Manson said the city’s Pizza Hut had built an addition that created extra space for parties and other large gatherings.
“I have had my children’s birthday parties there. A lot of families have done that type of thing,” said Manson. “There was nowhere else in town that had that option.”