Meet Stephanie Holdren!

Stephanie has one of the coolest jobs at Pizza Hut, IMO. She’s our new WingStreet food truck captain, bringing delicious, crispy wings to fans around the country! Here are five things we learned about Stephanie as she gets ready to take the show on the road, literally.

 

She may wander, but all roads lead to Pizza Hut.

I started working for Pizza Hut’s company-owned restaurant in 2009, when I was hired as a shift leader. Previously, I had worked for Pizza Hut in the south of Texas with one of their franchisees, NPC [National Pizza Company]. I left NPC to be a stay-at-home mom, and took a two year break to have my daughter, which was nice. My husband and I then moved to Dallas, and I let Pizza Hut know that I had worked here before: they pretty much hired me right away. I started as a Shift Leader and worked my way to be a Restaurant General Manager (RGM) in 2010. I opened and worked at the WingStreet standalone restaurant, which didn’t end up working out but in the end led me to my position today. [Editor’s note: Pizza Hut tested out WingStreet as a separate restaurant concept, outside of the menu already in Pizza Hut restaurants, in the Dallas area before limiting WingStreet to be exclusively in Pizza Huts.]

Before finding this position, I spent some time as part of the Pizza Hut Grow Team. This group travels the country helping to train and systematize company-own stores. Restaurants are often a bit different everywhere you go, so I would come in to help train people on the way our company-owned restaurants do things. If I hadn’t found this position with the food truck, I would have pushed harder to be with the training and development team or with the Academy. Part of what I loved about being on the Grow Team was that I got to travel and see the country. I’m pretty excited to get to do that again—it’s really the best of both worlds. I’ll get to travel and bring our brand to people, and do some training on the side.

She’s not one to back down from a good challenge.

Tom Wood, my Area Coach for the last five years, has been really good about putting my name out there for every opportunity that pops up. He’s always known that my dream was to be here at the Pizza Hut Headquarters. My vision has always been bigger than just achieving as an Area Coach—don’t get me wrong, that’s a great opportunity—but I’ve always known that I wanted to be more to the brand than a foot soldier.

Tom was one of the big reasons I started to think of Pizza Hut as a career, and not just as a job. I was going back to school while I was a RGM, and juggling being a student with the work week and a three-year-old child was a lot all at once. I remember Tom pulling me aside one day and saying to me, “Stephanie, when are you going to realize that this is a career. You can do this job for the rest of your life.” It made something click for me, and I started to realize that I don’t HAVE to be satisfied with just working as a General Manager; if I just keep my focus, then I will be where I want to be.

Launching the WingStreet restaurant was appealing because I could promote the brand—and bring awareness to our new restaurants— it was something different. Everybody knows Pizza Hut, and you don’t need do much convincing to get people to eat pizza. WingStreet presented more of a challenge because it was new and unknown—I liked that it was something different, it was brand new and a challenge.

Even though the brick-and-mortar restaurants didn’t work out, when Tom told me about the WingStreet food truck, my reaction was, “that is PERFECT!!” People don’t need to know what WingStreet is because they aren’t coming to us, we’re going to them. We’re able to get the word out there about how great our wings are—then when they learn that these wings are coming from Pizza Hut, and you can have them delivered, they’re blown away by it.

She’s found a balance between being a brand ambassador and bringing her own flavor.

What appeals to me about driving a truck around and handing out wings to people? Driving a truck around and handing out wings to people! It’s a pretty cool job. When you think of a food truck, it’s a very relaxed atmosphere. It’s never super corporate-y, and I’m not a super corporate-y person. I can be friendly, but I like being myself—in this role, I can be myself and help Pizza Hut at the same time. I’m bringing that brand awareness.

I’m excited to see where we’re going and to bring awareness to the WingStreet brand because it’s all unknown—I don’t know where we’re going, I don’t know if this is going to work or not, but it’s really exciting. Usually in the restaurant, you know what your day is going to be like. Friday’s are always busy, Mondays are always calm. It’s a routine. With the truck, there’s no routine to this at all. It’s all a surprise.

Her second day on the job was at SXSW.

I’ve been a restaurant general manager up until about four weeks ago. That’s when they offered me the job for the WingStreet truck, and the next day after I was hired we took the truck down to SXSW. I came to learn the system, and then we took off.

Luckily, we were just giving away wings at the festival, which was good because we didn’t have to ring up anything or charge people. Lots of people tried WingStreet for the first time, and some were absolutely floored that Pizza Hut was making these awesome wings. We were handing out the exact same wings, with the exact same sauces, that you can get delivered from your local Pizza Hut! It was great—people were coming back for seconds and thirds. At one point we had a line around the corner.

Next we’re going to the Kentucky Derby along with the Pizza Hut Mobile Kitchen to sell wings and pizzas. After that we’ll be heading to Toledo, Ohio for two months. We’re going to do some testing with some new top secret products up there. The eventual goal is to get some more WingStreet trucks on the road so we can bring our wings to the masses!

Pizza Hut brought her family together.

My husband works at Pizza Hut as well—we actually met at Pizza Hut with NPC. When I started at Pizza Hut in 2003, he was actually my RGM! We didn’t start dating until I moved restaurants though: I moved to a store in Beaumont, we started dating, and now we’ll be celebrating our ten year anniversary this October! We’ve always worked at Pizza Hut—he works at a franchise now in Arlington. We usually don’t talk about work at home, but my kids LOVE cheese sticks.

Over the years, we’ve left Pizza Hut a few times here and there—like I said, to raise my daughter. When we moved to Dallas, I thought of Pizza Hut again and applied to be a server—really, anything, I just needed a job. The girl I talked to took my name and called the Area Coach, Tom, because she didn’t have an opening. That’s how it all got started, and I’m so grateful to her. If she hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t be here.

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