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Pizza Hut readies tests of by-the-slice sales

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PIzza Hut considers joining the trend to quick and ready food products by testing by-the-slice pizza sales in two locations. (AP Photo/Pizza Hut)

PIzza Hut considers joining the trend to quick and ready food products by testing by-the-slice pizza sales in two locations. (AP Photo/Pizza Hut)

Pizza Hut plans to start offering pizza by the slice for the first time in two test locations this week, as the chain looks to keep pace with trendy competitors offering quick, made-to-order pies.

The chain says the two locations – one in York, Neb. and Pawtucket, R.I. – will open Tuesday.

A slice will cost between $2 and $3 and take three to four minutes to heat up. They’ll be made with new recipes more in line with the thinner pies sold in the Northeast.

The tests reflect how established restaurant chains are scrambling to reinvent themselves to keep pace with a rapidly changing industry.

Diners increasingly are flocking to places such as Chipotle, where they feel they can get restaurant-quality food for just a little more than they would pay at fast-food chains such as Burger King.

In fact, Chipotle recently announced plans to move into the pizza business with Pizzeria Locale. Customers walk up to a counter and can watch as their pizza is built; the pie is then placed in an oven that cooks it in about 2 minutes.

Other pizza chains feature similar fast-cooking, make-your-own concepts, including Blaze Pizza, based in Pasadena, Calif., and Pizza Studio, based in Los Angeles.

For its part, Pizza Hut has been focusing on developing its smaller format carry-out stores rather than its dine-in restaurants in recent years as its sales have been choppy. In the first three quarters of 2013, sales fell slightly at locations open at least year.

“We’re seeing the trends for quick and ready products,” noted Carrie Walsh, Pizza Hut’s chief marketing officer.

Rival Domino’s also has been selling pizza by the slice at some of its newly designed stores, according to a spokesman.

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