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JUSTIN SELLERS/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Pizza Hut employee Carlos Yates cleans the kitchen at the restaurant’s new location on U.S. 61 North Thursday.  Pizza Hut will soon close its D’Evereux Drive location to focus more on carry-out and delivery orders.
JUSTIN SELLERS/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Pizza Hut employee Carlos Yates cleans the kitchen at the restaurant’s new location on U.S. 61 North Thursday. Pizza Hut will soon close its D’Evereux Drive location to focus more on carry-out and delivery orders.

Archived Story

Pizza landscape is changing in the Miss-Lou

Published 12:09am Sunday, September 8, 2013

Two companies are looking to put a spin on the traditional pizza restaurant, while another is hoping to find a local resident interested in investing in its carry-out pizza chain.

The Pizza Hut located on D’Evereux Drive will soon relocate up the road to a new location, which will offer more carry out and delivery options.

Johnny’s Pizza House, a company established in 1967 in Monroe, La., will soon open a store in Vidalia to offer traditional pizza recipes with a Louisiana kick.

And officials with Little Caesars see the Miss-Lou as the perfect place for a new store, but haven’t yet designated any certain location.

Pizza Hut

The first Pizza Hut location in Natchez will close its doors today after nearly 40 years of serving hot, fresh pizza to hungry Natchez residents.

“That location definitely has some history,” Pizza Hut area coach Delores Owens said. “Everything just worked out to where we could open this new location to continue offering the community a great product.”

JUSTIN SELLERS/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — The future home of Johnny's Pizza sits partially completed Thursday on Carter Street in Vidalia.
JUSTIN SELLERS/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — The future home of Johnny’s Pizza sits partially completed Thursday on Carter Street in Vidalia.

The new location, which is located on U.S. 84 in between the Chevron and Morgantown Plaza, is smaller than the former location and won’t offer as many dine-in opportunities, Owens said.

“We have a few tables for the people who work around here or any families that just want to stop in and eat here,” she said. “But most of our locations are starting to focus more on the carry-out and delivery aspect.”

Owens said Pizza Hut’s other location on U.S. 61 South will remain open and continue offering dine-in options as well a lunch buffet.

Constructions crews worked for several months, Owens said, to clear out the new location while she and other employees have been busy in the past few weeks preparing and organizing the new equipment.

“People have been tearing down that door coming in thinking we’re already open,” Owens said. “I think that’s a good sign.”

The new location will officially open its doors Tuesday with a ribbon cutting ceremony slated for 11 a.m.

Johnny’s Pizza

A Johnny’s Pizza House served residents in Vidalia in the 1980s from its location on Carter Street in the Vidalia Shopping Center, and Todd Broussard of Calhoun, La., who purchased a franchise, said he’s excited to bring the restaurant back to the area.

“Vidalia is a great area, and we’re excited to bring Johnny’s back,” Broussard said. “I’ve been working at the Johnny’s here in Monroe learning the trade to prepare.”

The new restaurant will be part of a 15,000-square-foot addition to the current Vidalia Shopping Center situated between Vidalia Market and Vidalia Total Fitness. The new store will occupy a space adjacent to the Vidalia Market.

Since opening in 1967, Johnny’s Pizza has expanded into the largest locally owned pizza chain in north Louisiana.

The restaurant will have a buffet and salad bar available for lunch, Broussard said, along with the full menu available for dine-in throughout the day for lunch and dinner. Delivery options will also be available when the restaurant opens.

“We’ll also have a pick-up window where people can drive up and get their pizza,” Broussard said. “The pick-up window at the Monroe store gets used plenty, so this is a great place to learn to prepare for the initial rush we’re hoping for when we first open.”

The menu for Johnny’s Pizza House includes a variety of specialty pizzas like hog heaven, chicken ranchero and the Johnny’s original “sweep the kitchen.”

Muffulettas, salads, wings and other sides are also included on the menu.

Johnny’s Pizza House currently operates 31 restaurants in north Louisiana.

Broussard currently owns and operates three Quiznos sandwich restaurants in the Monroe area, and he and his wife, Viki, own a camp on Lake St. John.

Broussard said he hopes the Vidalia location will be open by November.

Little Caesers

Bob Mazziotti, vice president of franchise development for Little Caesars, said the Miss-Lou is exactly where he hopes to see the next Little Caesars open.

“For the last decade, we have had significant sales increases and store growth and basically came across America and got established in all the metropolitan areas,” Mazziotti said. “And now we are on national TV and have created a demand for a lot of the secondary towns and smaller areas where people have heard abut the product and the extraordinary value it has, and they are kind of like, ‘Where is it, it is not near me?’”

The company recently launched a new franchise growth strategy focused on bringing its product to smaller rural communities.

“We have got to step up our growth plans and get into a lot of those areas where middle America is waiting and we are not there,” Mazziotti said. “The areas with a 15,000 to 20,000 population base (is what we’re looking for).”

Mazziotti said company officials are currently seeking a local resident interested in investing in a franchising opportunity.

“People who live there, they know the ins and outs of the community,” Mazziotti said. “You bring a transplant in and they have to learn the ins and outs of the town and how it works.

“When you have someone raised in the town and they know the town, it makes the right opportunity for people who are looking to go into business.”

Mazziotti said anyone interested in the opportunity doesn’t necessarily have to have a background in business.

“We bring people in and teach them the whole business,” Mazziotti said. “They just need to look at the process and see if the food business is where they want to develop a passion.”

For more information on franchising opportunities, visit www.franchise.littlecaesars.com.