Pizza Hut expands in county

James Johnson

June 26, 2014

LUMBERTON — The smell of warm dough baking and cheese melting may become a familiar fixture in some areas of Robeson County with the opening of two new Pizza Hut Delco Lite locations.

On May 25, Lumberton residents saw the opening of a new Pizza Hut Delco Lite at 2763 W. Fifth St., and only a few weeks later the company revealed its plans to open up yet another Delco Lite location in St. Pauls, on the corner of South Fifth and McLean streets, across from the Lumbee Guaranty Bank.

Delco Lites are smaller than Pizza Hut’s usual dine-in restaurants, and serve strictly as locations for carryout and delivery. The new stores are part of the company’s new business strategy to open more locations and turn a faster profit with comparably low overhead. The name “Delco Lite” is shorthand for the words “delivery” and “carryout.”

“They are similar to a Dominos, as we wanted to put less emphasis on dine-in, as not as many people are doing that anymore,” said Josh Windom, district manager for the area. “We call it ‘home meal replacement.’ You’re still eating at home, you’re just not cooking it at home.”

With both of the new locations Windom said he wanted to aim for areas that were lacking in a dedicated pizza delivery business.

“Our location on Fayetteville Road hasn’t delivered in this part of town in probably three years,” Windom said. “Because of traffic increase, it just takes too long.”

J.R. Steigerwald, St. Pauls town administrator, says that the residents he has spoken to are eager to begin receiving pizzas delivered straight to their doors.

“We don’t have a delivery pizza service in town that I am aware of,” Steigerwald said. “We have some places that sell pizza, but this is not an ‘eat-in’ situation. From the town’s perspective, the creation of new jobs is good news as well.”

The new Lumberton location currently employees 20 people, which Windom says is the average for the Delco Lite locations.

Windom, who has been working with Pizza Hut for 15 years, says that as a lifetime resident of Robeson County, opening new locations in his hometown has been a source of pride.

“I personally would like to open up another location in Fairmont, but a lot of the Fairmont customers travel through [Lumberton] on their way home from work,” Windom said.

The franchise, which was founded in 1958 has more than 11,000 locations worldwide, and has since its opening expanded its menu to include more than just pizza. Among the other items the restaurant serves are Buffalo wings, pasta and speciality pizzas, such as their famous stuffed-crust pizza.

“I am very happy with the new location,” said Beatrice Godwin, who was picking up a pizza at the Lumberton location on Wednesday. “I work near here and this is easier than driving across town to the other one.”

As construction on the St. Pauls’ location has not begun yet, Steigerwald says it would be difficult to determine exactly when the new location will be open, however Windom says he is aiming for an October opening.