Remembering the old Next Door Restaurant chain from the ’70s

Old Next Door Restaurant from 1971

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Next Door was a concept restaurant chain from the early 1970s that was owned by Pizza Hut International.

Rather than pizza, though, the restaurant served steaks, seafood, hamburgers, sandwiches, salads and desserts. And instead of servers, you ordered your food by “calling” it in through the red telephone receiver at your table, and then picked it up at a counter. 

As far as we can tell, the eateries didn’t survive past the mid-1970s… well, except in a few photos like the ones below.

Looking back at the old Next Door Restaurant chain

From the Pizza Hut International (PHI) Annual Reports, 1970-1973

The Next Door restaurant — with a red, white and blue Revolutionary War decor — features a variety of high-quality, quarter-pound hamburgers.

By the end of fiscal 1970, the prototype unit was in operation in East Wichita, and a second company-owned outlet was near operational status in the western part of the city.

Five other Next Door units were under construction or development by PHI on March 31, 1970, with an additional one under construction or development by a franchisee.

Old Americana-style Next Door retaurant from the early 1970s

Besides Wichita, Next Door outlets will be in Atlanta, Georgia; Culver City, California; Des Moines, Iowa; Jacksonville, and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida; Louisville, Kentucky; Kansas City, Kansas, and Fort Worth, Texas.

The Next Door concept — designed by three Oklahoma City men — was acquired during the first quarter of the fiscal period with the trio receiving a percentage of initial fees and royalty fees on franchises.

In addition to offering a variety of All-American hamburgers, the Next Door serves steaks, spaghetti and shrimp dinners, chili, and other sandwiches, all in the medium price range.

Retro 70s Next Door restaurant chain

One reason for Next Door’s immediate success, according to Daniel M. Carney, PHI Chairman of the Board, is “the current trend in the hamburger business to fill a void left by the rapid growth of the 19- and 20-cent outlets.”

The colorful Americana interior features wooden soldiers watching over the diners. Walls are paneled in dark pecan and accented by distinctive Revolutionary War-era wall hangings and colorful cut glass light fixtures.

Inside a Next Door restaurant - 1973

Red patent leather-like booths and tables are equipped with red individual telephones for ordering. Some booths are even roomy enough for a family of six to dine in comfort. Food is served from a central counter.

Carpeting in the initial unit is bright blue with flecks of red to add to the warm, inviting atmosphere which appeals to diners of all ages.

The colonial exterior of white haydite walls is highlighted with a brilliant red roof.

Vintage Next Door restaurant building - 1973

The front doors, also red, feature leaded glass windows in bright colors. Wooden soldiers stand guard outdoors with the Next Door sign featuring a giant-sized toy soldier.

The 40-foot by 90-foot restaurant seats 180 persons.

Vintage Next Door restaurant interior from the 70s

The special hamburger

The Next Door Special is a quarter pound of ground chuck on a sesame seed bun, Suzy-O style French fries, and a fresh green tossed salad.

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Red patent leather booths

“Americana” describes the Next Door Restaurant interior with red patent leather-like booths, bright blue carpeting with flecks of red, dark pecan paneling, and distinctive Revolutionary War-era wall hangings.

Orders are placed by individual red telephones and food is served from a central counter.

Inside an old Next Door restaurant 1970

Restaurant with a red roof

A brilliant red roof tops the colonial-style, white-walled Next Door restaurant, and the red front doors feature leaded glass windows in red, white and blue.

Colonial-style, white-walled Next Door restaurant

The old Next Door Restaurant logo

The brand’s logo featured a Revolutionary War soldier-style nutcracker character and stylized text.

Vintage Next Door Restaurant logo from 1970

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