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Frank Carney (1938–2020), co-founder of Pizza Hut

by Linnea Crowther

Frank Carney was a businessman who co-founded Pizza Hut along with his brother.

A tale of two pizza chains

Carney and his brother, Dan, opened the first Pizza Hut when they were both students at Wichita State University in 1958 — Carney was just 19 years old. With $600 borrowed from their mother and little idea just what they were doing, the two brothers made it work. Within three years, they opened their first franchise, in Topeka, and by 1977, they had grown the business to 4000 locations. That was the year when they sold to PepsiCo, bringing in more than $300 million. Carney remained on the board of directors until 1980, later taking on a number of other business ventures. One of them was operating more than 130 Papa John’s franchises, making him a direct competitor to his previous company. Carney famously appeared in a Papa John’s commercial in the 1990s saying, “Sorry, guys — I found a better pizza.”

Notable quote

“When you are starting a business that’s going to pay your way through college, you don’t even think about what the economy is doing. We didn’t care about who was in the White House or what the unemployment rate was. The entrepreneur, all he thinks about is: Is there a market for the product? Can I sell it?” —from a 1992 speech Carney gave at Wichita State University


Tributes to Frank Carney

Full obituary: The Wichita Eagle

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