Business feature: Pizzeria offers more than pizza to community

By Clarence Plank: PNT Staff Writer

Pizza Hut offers more than pizza.

General Manager Cathy Hess and her employees have been working to give Portales the best service for a dine-in experience.

The restaurant is owned by Greg and Wendell Blankenship, who own eight Pizza Hut stores: Two in Clovis and the rest in smaller towns in Texas. They brought Pizza Hut to Portales in 1987 and years later built a new building at its current location on North Chicago in 1996.

Hess has been an employee for nine years. For the first five years she was teaching elementary physical education in Clovis during the day and working nights at Pizza hut.

“I stepped up through the lower phases of management,” Hess said. “Until we were getting ready to open up Pizza Hut WingStreet up in Clovis. I quit teaching school to become a manager and helped them open the WingStreet.”

Hess moved from stores in Clovis to Portales, Portales to Clovis and back.

“I like Portales,” Hess said. “I moved here after I got transferred to this store the first time. Even when I worked at the Clovis store I stayed in Portales.”

Hess said she likes the environment and the people she has met, but she loves the restaurant.

“I firmly believe I have the nicest restaurant in Portales,” Hess said. “That’s a manager’s goal to make improvements, improve service and what ever.”

Pizza Hut has expanded the menu from just serving pizza and salad. Now, it includes pastas, sandwiches, wings with eight different recipes, since adding WingStreet to the menu.

Pizza Hut works to give back to the Portales community.

Hess served as chairperson of the American Cancer Society fundraiser, Relay for Life. Pizza Hut also donates food to Habitat for Humanity workers and participates in the Book It program, awarding free pizza to students completing reading goals.

Hess has trained two young men, who began managing their own stores in the past year.

“I feel like that is a feather in my cap,” Hess said. “It’s also close to my heart, coming from a teaching background. It makes me feel I can still teach people.”