Pizza Hut has been a thing for as long as I remember. Even in the pizza capital of the world, Chicago, where I grew up going to Pizza Hut was a treat. I associate Pizza Hut the most, though, with our Kansas City vacations because we'd usually wind up at the one in Independence near the King Louie Strike and Spare back in the late '70s and '80s. These days the red roofs, checkered red and white table cloths, and classic lamps are a thing again. They're not everywhere, but you can find a few of them in Missouri and Illinois.

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Pizza Hut Classic Definition

So what makes a Pizza Hut, a Pizza Hut Classic?

According to the Retrologist, a Pizza Hut is considered a Pizza Hut Classic when it has the following elements:

  • The old logo is used in pole signage and at the top of the usually red-roofed restaurant. The pole sign features the addition of the word classic.
  • The interior features cozy red booths and old-school Pizza Hut lamps.
  • Stickers featuring their old mascot Pizza Hut Pete on the door.
  • Posters featuring classic photos from Pizza Huts of the past.
  • A sign featuring a quote from Pizza Hut co-founder Dan Carney, explaining the concept as a celebration of the brand's heritage.

Retrologist also says a lot of the locations are in smaller markets, where the legacy stores have survived, the bones of the old buildings intact.

Can You Have A Classic Like Experience at a Pizza Hut That Isn't Classic?

I think you can, and for those who live in West Central Missouri, you don't have to drive very far. Several months ago we decided to take a radio station field trip to the Sedalia Pizza Hut.

I can't remember if they still have the iconic lamps, and I don't believe they were using the red and white checkered tablecloths. Yet, the restaurant's footprint is very similar to the Pizza Hut's of the 70s and 80s. Those who grew up in Sedalia were talking about how the restaurant was set up in the 70s and 80s, so in my opinion, you can have a very cool nostalgia trip at the Sedalia Pizza Hut.

The Marshall and Warrensburg Pizza Huts, unfortunately, are a little less classic. Both are later designs, and the Marshall one has a more fast-foodish vibe inside. However, the Marshall location, when I visited a month or so ago had brought back the Pizza Hut lunch buffet which is a pretty cool throwback itself.

My advice, look around, if there's a Pizza Hut near you that looks like the original design with the red roof, there's a good chance you'll experience a nice nostalgic trip back to the Pizza Hut of our youth. However, if you want the full throwback experience, back to the days when going out to eat was a thing, you probably want to go to one of the Pizza Hut Classic locations.

Pizza Hut Classic Locations in Missouri and Illinois

There's one Pizza Hut Classic location in Missouri, it's in the Ozarks in the town of  Shell Knob, Missouri on State Highway 39. In Illinois,  there are two Pizza Hut Classic locations. One on Center Street in Eureka, Illinois near Peoria. And another in Geneseo, 20 miles east of the Quad Cities on South Oakwood Avenue.

The Retrologist has a complete list of Pizza Hut Classic locations here.

The Bottom Line 

Nothing beats the classic Pizza Hut experience from our youth, and while your mileage may vary, I think you can get a pretty good dose of nostalgia by taking your family to any Pizza Hut with a dining room. I think when that large piping hot pan pizza gets dropped off and you see your smiling family's faces, you'll be thrown back in time and talking about Pizza Hut when you were a kid, even if the restaurant doesn't have the classic vibe.

I know when we went to the Sedalia Pizza Hut, I was imagining eight-year-old me enjoying a slice of Pizza Hut's pan pizza at the Independence location while on vacation with my folks, hoping they'll want to go bowling at the King Louie Strike and Spare next door.

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