Last Ocala Pizza Hut restaurant shuts doors
A sign outside the door of the Pizza Hut restaurant at 3815 E. Silver Springs Blvd. announces the closure of the last restaurant location in Ocala. [Carlos Medina/Ocala Gazette]
The full-service Pizza Hut restaurant at 3815 E. Silver Springs Blvd. closed on Dec. 22. It was the last sit-down Pizza Hut restaurant in Ocala and ends the city’s history with the 1970s-era rooflines that once dotted the United States. A dine-in location on State Road 200 closed several years ago, as did another on South Pine Avenue.
The Silver Springs Boulevard Pizza Hut location went up in 1972, according to property records.
With the closure, only two of the sit-down restaurants remain in Marion County: One in Belleview and another in Dunnellon. The chain started moving toward a pick-up and delivery model years ago, but this year announced it would close 300 locations, including many of the remaining sit-down eateries.
Famous for their pizza buffet and salad bar, the restaurants once catered to families who wanted a budget-conscience meal in a sit-down atmosphere. But the restaurants started to see fewer diners as people shifted to delivery and take-home pizza habits. With the COVID-19 pandemic, dining out took another hit and in August, Pizza Hut’s largest franchisee filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
There are about 7,000 Pizza Hut locations across the country. Yum! Brands operate Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell in the United States.