Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Silver Lane 'Pizza Hut' Back From 7-Year Silence, Flaming Doom

For the past many years, plenty have seen that vacant Pizza Hut on Silver Lane. Or perhaps you've taken the diamond lane before Exit 58 on I-84 Eastbound, glanced over and witnessed that familiar red-topped restaurant and its vacant lot held by self-proclaimed "America's Favorite Pizza" chain, Pizza Hut.

Upon today's shocking discovery driving along Silver Lane, it would appear Pizza Hut lives again -- as "The Hut".


Pizza Hut along Silver Lane closed after a two-alarm fire sought to seal its fate one (hot) February evening back in 2002. The red roof became an actual, animated red roof that night, eventually seeing the restaurant to remain closed up for a very long time. Ever since, the location had been sitting there on the stretch nearby Taco Bell and the revitalized Rensselaer Field (thanks Cabelas), boarded up, without any public plans to re-open or sell off the deadbeat property.

For roughly 7 years, the silent property has astonishingly opened its doors for patronage once again -- and with a new look: "The Hut" (though as you can see, only on the road sign because they know this marketing scheme won't last).

"The Hut" is the chain's (silly) ginchy new attempt at market rebranding, especially to those who've not seen an "Italian Bistro" Pizza Hut (a "classier" looking mask for the chain with like menu offerings , as seen in states like New Hampshire) or are ingrained with somewhat grungy, aging look and appeal of their red-roofed restaurants. They all do it, though not as pitifully as KFC trying to hawk grilled chicken or even hide the focus of their restaurant's, well, fried claim-to-fame. This, of course, makes the Colonel roll like a rotisserie chicken in his grave-y doom!

I don't know, I guess it sounds edgey, more urban. Nonetheless, "The Hut" attempted its latest concept having no other like it in Connecticut.

This comes as a great surprise seeing as Pizza Hut has always been a shaky, difficult market seemingly unable to stand on its own two feet come later 90's for Connecticut with many past locations having coupled with other chains (like Taco Bell or packed into stores like Target), gone "delivery" only vacating many of its stand-alone sites. Just in the Hartford area: Queen St., Southington (now Outback Steakhouse), US-6 & N. Main St., Bristol (now Sovereign Bank), Elm St., Enfield (now T.G.I. Friday's) and East Main St., New Britain (now Taco Bell) have disappeared.

I abhor Pizza Hut and find their stock largely inedible (well, except for those breadsticks) and when it comes to chain pizza, it's beyond me why Papa Gino's has such a hard time in Connecticut -- their pies are simply excellent. Nonetheless, we're glad to see surprising success in such times -- especially one on a once hopeless eight-year site seeing life again.

Here are some photos of the formerly shuttered restaurant. These were taken in March 2008, but the building resembled this frozen look for many years (and surprisingly little to no graffiti).



There are currently 8 stand-alone, dine-in restaurants in Connecticut: Brookfield (Federal Rd.), East Hartford (Silver Lane), Groton (Long Hill Rd.) New London (I-95/Frontage Rd.), Old Saybrook (US-1/Boston Post Rd.), Vernon-Rockville (Talcottville Rd.), Watertown (Main St.), West Haven (I-95/Saw Mill Rd.).