On Luke Burbank’s epic journey across our great nation this summer, he enjoyed a wondrous, perilous adventure, before finally getting to Mordor and throwing the One Ring into Mount Doom.
(I am being told by my editor that this was actually Frodo Baggins in Tolkein’s The Ring Cycle. Crap. Let’s start over.)
On Luke Burbank’s epic journey across our great nation this summer, he drove a Buick Encore from New York to the Cascadia subduction zone and dined at many of our nation’s finest chain restaurants, including a Pizza Hut in Kendallville, Indiana.
Pizza Hut, as you know, is our nation’s leading purveyor of brick-and-mortar places you drive past that are now a credit union but were definitely a Pizza Hut before because duh, the roof. It’s been in the news lately for reasons ranging from the oldest one closing to putting hot dogs in the crust because America is broken.
They’re also attempting a new concept, no doubt inspired by the success of Buffalo Wild Wings, that puts an equal focus on their WingStreet chicken parts vertical, plus a whole bunch of televisions tuned to sports and a full bar. One of these new Huts opened less than a mile from my house, so as a person who enjoys bars, pizza, and sports, I was compelled to check it out.
First, I should note that I live in a college town, and it being the summer, there’s no one around. This is not hyperbole: I was there for an hour on a mid-Thursday afternoon, and I was the only customer. I hope for their sake that once the kids come back they’ll be a little busier. As it’s located on the main floor of a building that has alcohol-prohibited student housing, I like their odds.
Remember when I brought up Buffalo Wild Wings two paragraphs ago? It’s a good thing I did, because the Pizza Hut Sports Bar is EXACTLY LIKE a Buffalo Wild Wings, only with pizza. This is not really a criticism: Pizza is better than chicken wings (come at me), and combining bars and sports and carb-laden foods isn’t a BWW copyright. There are a couple pool tables, a shufflepuck game, a big-screen television, many other smaller televisions, and the aforementioned full bar. I was unable to confirm if they had Corona opportunities.
Also, for reasons that I can’t possibly surmise, there is a small Texas flag. In Central Minnesota.
(Well, there are worse flag options.)
As for the menu, it’s a Pizza Hut menu with chicken wings and appetizers. (No hot dog pizza!) There is also a lunch buffet for the bargain-conscious glutton.
And speaking of bargain-conscious, look at this deal on waffle fries:
$1.99! This is not a happy hour price! Find me a better deal than that on waffle fries anywhere, and I’ll bring the seasoned sour cream.
The server (Cara or Carrie, I think) was unfailingly pleasant, and said I should definitely try the cheese-and-broccoli soup. I am not a cheese-and-broccoli-soup-from-a-place-that-makes-pizza-and-wings fan, so I just ordered some pizza rollers, which are not at all like Pizza Rolls, but literally rolled-up dough wads with pizza toppings inside, like if you were going to make a calzone but got incredibly lazy and just said, “Eff it, roll ’em up.” Still, they were pretty good! It’s pizza! Pizza is good!
(Pictured: pizza rollers. They were fine!)
The bar is definitely a college bar, so instead of bourbon tastings and 65 craft beer tap lines, the emphasis is on Coors Light pounder specials and $3 Long Island Iced Teas (all-day Thursday). Still, the one local brewery in town has a beer on tap, so hooray for supporting a local business that is two blocks away.
Verdict: I would go again! The prices were reasonable, the one item I ate was fine, Cara or Carrie was very prompt with ice water refills, and it’s pretty close to my house. That said, I will not go when college is back in session, as being the old dude lingering in the college bar is a bad look.