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4 Once-Favorite Pizza Chains in America That Went Out of Business

    4 Once-Favorite Pizza Chains in America That Went Out of Business

    Squeezed out by delivery competitors or their antiquated ideas.

    Pizza restaurant sales in the United States will exceed 45 billion US dollars in 2021, but the number of pizza restaurants in the country fell by nearly three thousand last year. This means that while some pizza joints thrived, others felt the aftereffects of the pandemic and had to deal with inflation and supply chain issues.

    America’s insatiable appetite for pizza has seen many chains rise and fall. While some chains are expanding so quickly that they are planning hundreds of new locations, others have fared less. This is because the dining public in the United States is a fickle bunch with ever-changing palates and preferences, whether dining out or ordering in.

    Certain steakhouses have fallen out of favor in recent years, but a few once-loved pizza chains have suffered the same fate. Along with struggling chains like Cici’s and California Pizza Kitchen, which have both made moves to remain relevant this year, here are four American pizza titans that have gone out of business for good.

    1. Pizza Hut

    Pizza Haven, one of the forefathers of the pizza delivery era, is now a relic for pepperoni lovers in the Pacific Northwest. The chain began in Seattle in 1958 with a once-revolutionary dial-a-pizza format, making it one of the first brands on the market. Pizza Haven had 42 locations in the Pacific Northwest and California at its peak, but it was a casualty of the pizza delivery wars of the 1990s.

    As behemoths like Pizza Hut and Domino’s emerged, Pizza Haven couldn’t compete, eventually succumbing to the same fate as Blockbuster Video and declaring bankruptcy in the late 1990s before disappearing entirely.

    2. ShowBiz Pizza Place

    Sounds familiar: a pizza parlor with games, rides, and creepy animatronics. If you guessed Chuck E. Cheese, you might be surprised to learn that an oddly similar concept preceded the rodent-themed pizza playpen. ShowBiz Pizza Place was a kid-friendly eatery that served pizza with a side of shenanigans.

    ShowBiz, which first opened in Kansas City in 1980, featured an animatronic stage show called Rock-afire Explosion, which featured a hillbilly bear named Billy Bon, a musical gorilla, and a spirited mouse.

    Unsurprisingly, there is only one animatronic pizza restaurant, so when Chuck E. Cheese became the de facto brand for ball pits and pizza, it eventually took over ShowBiz and converted all locations by 1992, leaving the brand’s origins in the 1980s in the dust. Of course, the fact that Chuck E. Cheese has declared bankruptcy and is now selling frozen pizza is not exactly the pinnacle of success, so only time will tell how long America will have a pizza parlor with animatronic critters.

    3. Happy Joe’s Pizza

    While not entirely gone, the future looks bleak for a Midwestern pizza chain that has suffered greatly in recent years. Whereas Happy Joe’s once had 42 locations in Minnesota, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, North Dakota, and Wisconsin, it’s parent company Dynamic Restaurant Holdings, declared bankruptcy, threatening the closure of many company-owned locations.

    However, unlike Pizza Haven and ShowBiz, there is still hope for Happy Joe’s. The bankruptcy, brought on by pandemic woes and suffocating competition, had no effect on franchised locations, which still account for the majority of its units. So, while Dynamic was unable to repay its $5.3 million debt, the brand lives on to fight another day.

    4. Pizza Cucinova

    Pizza Cucinova was an Ohio-based mini-chain with a loyal following that seems to have vanished overnight. It was nowhere near as prolific as Pizza Haven and only a blip on the radar compared to omnipresent entities like Domino’s. All five locations were closed without any formal announcement or acknowledgment (its website no longer works, and its last Instagram post was in 2019), leaving artisan pizza lovers in Ohio with no time to mourn.

    The company had a brief existence. It first opened in 2013, then expanded to a handful of outposts, some of which never reopened following the initial pandemic-caused closures. The Florida-based Vivaria Group owned the chain, which purchased Pizza Cucinova from Sbarro—a chain notorious for its own difficulties—which speaks volumes about its chances in a pizza-saturated market.

    Learn more: The 9 Best Foods You Can Get at America’s Favorite Grocer, 7-Eleven

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