In their series Pizza Hunt, photographer Ho Hai Tran and art director Chloe Cahill explore the world, searching for old, iconic Pizza Hut buildings.
With over 11,000 Pizza Hut locations in 94 countries, the duo sought to photograph the fast-food chain’s original branches. They started in Sydney, where they pair are based, and slowly traversed 14,000 kilometres between Australia and New Zealand.
Eventually, they made their way to the United States, where they’ve encountered huts in California, Florida, Ohio, Illinois, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York.
Sadly, most of the huts were either demolished or renovated into something else, such as grocery stores, liquor shops, funeral homes, gospel churches, and pawnshops.
Ho and Chloe embarked on the project – which took them two years to complete – as a way to capture the nostalgia “inspired by the huts themselves, and the memories they evoke”, they told A Plus.
We recently talked to the two artists and found out more about this fascinating, hunger-inducing series.
Please tell us more about yourselves.
Ho: “We are a pair of artists working in the medium of photography. We have been working together for about six years on a variety of projects. We are interested in by-gone eras and lost arts.”
How did you get started in photography?
Chloe: “We have both had an interest in photography since a young age. Our work has always found its expression through photography but we are interested in the way different mediums allow different stories to be told.”
What gave you the idea to photograph old and dilapidated Pizza Hut restaurants all over the world?
Ho: “The first former Pizza Hut we saw, now a Salvation Army, sparked the idea for this project. It’s such a classic example of a repurposed hut – still with all of the hallmarks of the original restaurant – and we wondered ‘are there more?’”
How did you manage to find all these Pizza Hut branches?
Chloe: “At first we started searching locally, having some idea where some huts used to be, and then as the scope of the work grew we took our search online.”
What did it feel like going to over a hundred of these restaurants?
Chloe: “This is one of the most research-intensive projects we have ever done and it has required us to travel farther than ever before. Over time we have developed a process which we repeat time and time again whereby we scout and shoot a location in the same visit. This means that the first time we see the hut is always a surprise, even if we know more or less what is there now.
“We usually shoot at sunrise, and often arrive at the location in the darkness before dawn, and it still always feels special to see the sun come up as we shoot.”
You traveled between Australia, New Zealand, and the USA for this series. Which place (or specifically, which branch) was most memorable?
Ho: “One memorable hut is located in Key Largo. It is a diner called Mrs Mac’s II. We drove out in darkness on a sliver of highway surrounded by commercial trucks and vehicles and pulled up to the location just before sunrise.
“We acquainted ourselves with the location, set up for the first shot and as the sun rose we noticed the sign on the roof that said ‘Eat Well, Laugh Often, Live Long’.”
What’s the biggest epiphany for you guys after this amazing adventure?
Chloe: “It’s incredible to hear about people’s own memories of dining in these restaurants – especially as there are some unifying elements. We love to hear about people’s memories of their youth or time with family and friends and to hear all of the unifying elements of these stories wherever we travel.”