PITTSBURG — The tearing down of the previous Pizza Hut sparked a good-natured war with another pizza store but Pizza Hut said, “Huff and puff away, Pizza Hut is new and here to stay."

The new restaurant is a “fast casual pizza restaurant concept,” which is supposed to better serve today’s customers, NPC President and Chief Executive Officer Steve Layt said.

The entire Pizza Hut building at Quincy and Broadway was demolished in April. The new building is 1,700 square feet and is a $1.6 million investment.

“This is not only a great investment for NPC but also a great investment at Pittsburg,” Layt said.

On Monday, there was an open house and 50 year celebration for the new dine-in, carry out and delivery store.

The new building includes an open layout, fountain machine, TVs, theater kitchen and dine-in seating for 28, along with fast ovens to “accommodate quicker lunch schedules.”

“We have fantastic nine inch pizzas,” Layt said. “We can get you in and out for lunch in five minutes, there's a lot to love about this new concept.”

Since the building was opened, the 201 S. Broadway carry-out and delivery Pizza Hut was closed. Pizza Hut Area Manager Amy Taylor said the new building has boosted morale and pride in the restaurant.

“With new buildings morale picks up and the team gets excited,” Taylor said. “We have a lot of pride.”

Taylor said the employees from the closed location had the opportunity to work at the new building and she is welcoming new employees on board, and so is the call center.

Gene Bicknell opened a Pizza Hut in 1962 on the south end of Broadway and in 1964 opened a freestanding and more visible building on Quincy. In its place is the new building.

“He built the fifth largest restaurant operation company in the world, operating over 1,300 Pizza Huts and almost 400 Wendy’s,” Vice Chairman NPC Executive Committee Troy Cook said.

It’s also “spawned” other businesses, Cook said.

“There’s a tremendous amount of commerce in the state and a tremendous amount of employment and commerce in Pittsburg, all off of Gene’s original investment in 1962,” he said. “Without Gordon Elliott [one of Bicknell’s business partners] and Gene’s entrepreneurialism and their foresite and their investment, this business wouldn’t be where it is today.”

Vice President Restaurant Service and CAO Jason Poenitske said between the Pizza Hut call center, corporate office and restaurant the company has 350 people employed in Pittsburg — about three to five percent of total employments in Pittsburg.

Pizza Hut’s Quincy location is one of the busiest intersections in town and the new look and concept will be beneficial for the community and the restaurant’s customers, Chamber of Commerce President Blake Benson said.

“With this new construction, with the McDonalds renovation next door, it has gone a long way in improving the appearance of this intersection,” Benson said. “This really is one of the most visible intersections in our community.

“It really serves as an entry way into Pittsburg and to the campus.”

— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at spotter@morningsun.net or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.