For Little Leaguers, kids skipping school, and fast food lovers, McTacoHut — a fast food block that takes its name from food spots on Wiehle Avenue — has a storied past in Reston. For decades, the McDonald’s, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut cornered on that block have served up the finest in fast food and fast casual grub, becoming what former Reston resident Michael Berger calls a “monument” in the community.
In early 2020, Berger plans to bring some big changes: The Pizza Hut, which first opened in 1977 at 1821 Wiehle Avenue, will flip to a Neopolitan pizza restaurant, Pupatella. Berger is a founding partner and head of the company’s real estate and supply chain.
As a former Restonian who played table-top Pac-Man at the Pizza Hut and attended more birthdays than he would’ve liked at the McDonald’s former PlayPlace, Berger says he is excited to “bring back the neighborhood pizzeria” to a place he still calls home.
“The Pizza Hut is a different type of restaurant now than it was 25 years ago,” Berger said. “We’re trying to bring the ‘hut’ aspect of McTacoHut back.”
For the Washington, DC resident, the opening of Pupattella comes full circle. Berger graduated from South Lakes High School in 1998 after attending Sunrise Valley Elementary School and Langston Hughes Middle School. He hopes to preserve most of Pizza Hut’s roof to pay homage to its pizza past while renovating the interior.
“We’re entering something that is a monument,” Berger said. “We don’t take that lightly. It honestly sounds kind of cheesy but it is a great honor to come back to the area and bring our pizzeria to the community.”
The Pizza Hut will operate until its lease ends in early 2020.
Until then, Berger says the community has plenty of time to rename ‘McTacoHut.’ That stretch of Wiehle Avenue has already transformed in recent years due to Metro and transit-oriented development. More change is on the way, as the fire department opposite McTacoHut is rebuilt and the coming.
For the coming era, Berger suggests ‘McTacoTella.’
Photos by Fatimah Waseem