"We were able to build something from nothing," Dan Carney said, recalling the hardscrabble early days and that first pizzeria in Wichita, Kan., which opened 50 years ago Saturday. The chain known for its red-roofed restaurants is now updating its look, with plasma TVs, sports bars and local sports memorabilia. It's also rolling out tubs of baked pasta and piles of fried chicken wings to go with its famous pizzas.
Now 70, he is a competitor with a stake in 73 Papa John's pizza stores in Wichita, Houston and Hawaii. "Good competition keeps everybody on their toes, them and us," Carney said.
While the chain's most heated growth is now overseas, Bergen said there is room to expand at home. "We think there are another 1,000 towns in the United States where we can actually build a Pizza Hut," he said. "So we're not done growing in the United States at all."