With their distinctive barn-style roofs and trapezoidal windows, Pizza Hut buildings stir nostalgic memories of excessive pizza consumption and bizarre dessert-bar concoctions. But these childhood memories are quickly disappearing as these buildings, reminiscent of the golden-era of fast food, are demolished. So Sydney photographer Ho Hai Tran and his collaborator, Chloe Cahill, have decided to preserve them in a photographic book called Pizza Hunt. “This book touches a lot of people, it is a kind of time piece,” says Tran of his project. “Almost every single person we speak to about it responds with a big smile and starts recalling their memories. It connects a lot of people.”
Pizza Hunt photographically documents repurposed Pizza Huts in Australia, New Zealand and the USA, and is currently gathering support in an online Kickstarter campaign. Tran and Cahill came up with the idea when they regularly passed an old Pizza Hut building – now a Salvation Army store – in Cabramatta. “We started to wonder what other Pizza Huts were out there,” says Tran.
After shooting a collection of repurposed buildings throughout Australia, they travelled to the home of the fast food chain, the USA. Here they found huts that had been converted into gospel churches, pawnshops, liquor stores and even funeral homes.
Tran and Cahill’s favourite building is Copycat Printing in California, Pennsylvania. “We saw photos on Google Maps, but we were quite adamant that it was no longer there, we thought it had been demolished,” Tran says of their journey to find this particular old Pizza Hut. “We drove two hours through the night and we couldn’t see anything until we got there. The sun hadn’t come up, yet, and there were no cars around. It was like there was no one on the planet.” This building is on the front cover of Pizza Hunt, which also comes served in a custom-made pizza box, as any worthwhile pizza memorabilia should.
The duo is considering continuing its documentation of the iconic buildings. “We would love to shoot more. There is a whole bunch in South America – but it could consume us,” Tran laughs.
Pizza Hunt’s Kickstarter campaign will run until October 27.