Pizza Hut Museum at Wichita State

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Published on May 16, 2017, at 8:15 a.m.
by Kahla Anderson and Josh Downey.

America loves pizza, and pizza lovers love Pizza Hut. Two brothers, Dan and Frank Carney, while attending Wichita State University, founded the restaurant in 1958. The brothers borrowed $600 from their mother to create the first Pizza Hut.

Now, Pizza Hut is the largest pizza chain in the world with over 13,000 restaurants worldwide, serving millions of people each year.

The original Pizza Hut building on the Wichita State University campus is moving and being transformed into a museum for WSU. The museum will feature unique Pizza Hut memorabilia from the Carney brothers, as well as other franchise owners.

The Pizza Hut Museum will serve as a public relations tool to showcase the history of the entrepreneurial spirit of Wichita State University. It will be placed next to the university’s welcome center, so it will be hard to miss.

Dr. Lisa Parcell along with four other faculty members are working together to create the museum.Dr. Pickus is the WSU Foundation vice president for corporate and foundation relations.

Dr. Parcell is an associate professor and director of graduate studies in the Elliot School of Communication at Wichita State. Dr. Parcell’s experience in public relations, advertising and food history makes her a great asset to the team.

“As a public relations media historian, the story doesn’t get much better. How a company builds a brand beyond straight advertising is what I love the most about public relations history, and Pizza Hut got it right,” said Dr. Parcell.

The Carney brothers started Pizza Hut as an idea given by a friend. The significance of this story is the brothers’ ability to create a franchise from this simple plan. The success of a franchise stems from its ability to have successful restaurants beyond the original location. And that is what makes the Pizza Hut story unique.

The Pizza Hut story exemplifies the purpose of the Innovation Campus that Wichita State University is building to allow students, businesses and the community to share resources and create partnerships.

The Innovation Campus is an experiential learning space for students to receive hands-on training and experience within their desired field. The idea to move the museum to the new Innovation Campus serves as an inspiration for prospective and current students. The museum will showcase one of Wichita State University’s greatest success stories.

“We thought it would be a good idea to move the building to Innovation Campus and create a museum that tells one of the quintessential stories about entrepreneurial success at Wichita State,” said Dr. Pickus.

According to a Wichita State University news release, the WSU Foundation plans to raise $1.2 million while employing history, museum studies and other WSU students to update museum content and to act as guides for those who visit.

“One large part of the story we want to tell is that the Pizza Hut story is more than just a good idea,” said Dr. Parcell. “The Carney brothers were known for their integrity and their Midwestern work ethic. If they gave their word, they always followed through. They listened to their employees and business partners and worked out creative ways to solve problems. It was their drive and honesty that made the Pizza Hut franchise what it is today.”

The museum, expected to open in late 2017, represents how inspiration leads to innovation.

“Our goal is that students and their families will come to the museum and read about how former Wichita State University students went from an idea to selling pizzas in 1958 to creating the world’s largest pizza company,” said Dr. Pickus. “It should be inspirational as an example of what Wichita State has to offer its students to develop their skills to achieve their dreams.”

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