Local landmark torn down, to be replaced with modern facility

HARLINGEN — As a handful of bystanders watched, took photos and recorded video, a powerful hydraulic excavator began the process of demolishing a longtime landmark.

Just one week after workers began removing equipment, phase two of the plan for a new Pizza Hut at 1224 S. Commerce St. began yesterday with the 42-year-old building’s destruction.

RGV Pizza Hut LLC, owners of the restaurant and 44 others from Brownsville to Laredo, say the replacement restaurant to be built on the site will be carry-out and delivery only.

The old restaurant also had seats and tables for inside dining.

Pizza Hut, owned by restaurant company Yum Brands, is pinning some of its hopes on a new strategy to incorporate more carry-out and delivery locations.

Those will have fewer staff and should be more profitable to operate, restaurant analysts say.

Pizza Hut is the number one pizza-seller in the United States, with about 15 percent of an annual $40 billion market.

The new restaurant should be ready to serve customers in six weeks, owners say.

It will be one of three Pizza Hut restaurants in Harlingen, and the owners have said at least one of those will continue to have a sit-down dining area.

RGV Pizza Hut has operated in the Valley since 1973 and currently employs about 1,200 people.