Pizza Hut co-founder Frank Carney dies

PepsiCo bought Pizza Hut for $US300 million in 1977.
PepsiCo bought Pizza Hut for $US300 million in 1977.

Frank Carney, who with his brother started the Pizza Hut empire in Wichita, has died from pneumonia. He was 82.

Carney had recently recovered from COVID-19 but had Alzheimer's disease for more than a decade, the Wichita Eagle reported on Wednesday.

He died at an assisted living facility in Wichita, his wife and brother said.

Carney was a 19-year-old student at Wichita State University when he and 26-year-old brother, Dan, borrowed $US600 ($A800) from their mother to start a pizza business in 1958 near their family's Carney's Market.

"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," Carney once told a 1992 entrepreneurship conference at Wichita State.

"We didn't care about who was in the White House or what the unemployment rate was," he said.

"The entrepreneur, all he thinks about is: Is there a market for the product? Can I sell it?"

PepsiCo bought Pizza Hut for $US300 million in 1977.

Over the years, Carney got involved in various ventures, including other food companies, real estate, oil and gas, automotive, rental and recreational businesses.

Only five of about 20 of the companies made money, which his brother contends is actually not a bad average.

"He probably lost most of what he had made in Pizza Hut," Dan Carney said.

"He was not depressed. He was just aggressive to build something different."

When PepsiCo decided to move the Pizza Hut headquarters from Wichita to Dallas - a decision Carney thought a mistake - he decided to become a Papa John's Pizza franchisee and compete against his former associates.

Australian Associated Press