Pizza and beer. The pairing has built restaurant kingdoms. But, in quick service at least, it’s been a mostly collaborative ideal: We’ll supply the pizza, you bring the suds.
Pizza Hut is looking to change the game on a major scale. Starting Tuesday in Phoenix, Arizona, the Yum! Brands chain will pilot beer delivery.
“We’ve been laser focused on digital and delivery for a while now. I think this is really one way where we can provide a unique Pizza Hut delivery experience,” says Stacy Lynn Bourgeois, director of brand marketing at the more than 16,000-unit chain.
Pizza Hut says it will begin by offering beer in six packs—Budweiser, Bud Light, Shock Top, and Four Peaks Brewing’s Kilt Lifter (a local favorite)—for guests. It can be added to online orders, over the phone, for delivery, and carryout.
Then, in January, Pizza Hut will add wine to the lineup, Bourgeois says. Early next year, Pizza Hut plans to expand the service to other markets, although there’s no specific timeline for rollout just yet.
Bourgeois says Pizza Hut is perfectly positioned to pull beer and wine delivery off. Many locations already serve beer and wine, and are licensed to serve and distribute. Thus Pizza Hut can instantly leverage its massive delivery system and eliminate the need for a third-party vendor.
In some other cases, like TGI Fridays for example, guests have to order through the restaurant, which then links with a third-party delivery service. Lash (in TGI Fridays case) then drives to a local liquor store partner, picks up the bottles, and then goes to the restaurant before heading out to the guest.
“We’re really uniquely positioned to be able to offer this service because many of our restaurants already serve beer and wine,” Bourgeois says. “We were fortunate to have a system that would make it that easy, and really allow us to offer consumers oven-hot pizza and cold beer.”
“We believe we can be faster for consumers,” she adds. “We don’t have to make multiple stops to pick up beer from one place and hot pizza from another. And we already have a large network of delivery drivers to be able to get that experience to consumers. It will be seamless and easy. You can order your favorite pizza and beer all from one place.”
In 2016, Pizza Hut debuted several redesigned restaurants in Texas. These units, highlighted by wraparound windows, outdoor seating, and drive thrus, were also equipped to serve beer and wine. And that was just the start of a remodel program that targets roughly 700 U.S. stores per year through 2022.
Pizza Hit recently broke through a sales slump by posting 1 percent same-store sales growth at locations open at least a year in the third quarter. The chain reported five consecutive quarters of sales declines coming into the review. In May, Pizza Hut revealed a $130 million plan to transform the brand. Pizza Hut has also said it expects to hire 14,000 delivery drivers through the end of 2017.
Pizza Hut announced in October an new “oven-hot delivery system” that contains a pouch made with 3M Thinsulate Insulation thermal technology and a pizza box with crisp sheet insert—all designed to keep pizzas up to 15 degrees hotter during the delivery process.
Bourgeois says Pizza Hut plans to leverage local advertising and some social to get the word out about its beer delivery. But the main focus will be on making sure the experience runs smoothly on both ends.
“We are so excited about how well beer and wine and pizza go together,” Bourgeois says. “And we really believe we’re uniquely positioned to offer a great experience for consumers.”