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A boy who had never heard of Pizza Hut when he came to Australia as a seven-year-old has become the fast food giant's youngest ever store owner at 18

by Kellee McCann (2020-09-10)


A boy who had never heard of Pizza Hut when he came to Australia as a seven-year-old has become the fast food giant's youngest ever store owner at 18.

Dilan Elia runs the Pizza Hut restaurant at Marsden Park in Sydney's north-west and is planning to take over a second outlet by the end of the year. 

The industrious teenager got a job at his local Pizza Hut shortly after he turned 14 and worked there up to 35 hours a week while still at school.

'Five years later I am still here and have never worked anywhere else,' he said.

Today Dilan has 17 staff - including several mates who had struggled to find employment because of the COVID-19 pandemic - working for him. 

He is humbled to be the youngest franchisee Pizza Hut has had in its global system and credits his success to determination and a supportive family.

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Dilan Elia had never heard of Pizza Hut when he came to Australia without speaking English as a seven-year-old.

He began working for the chain aged 14 and became the fast food giant's youngest ever store owner at 18. He is pictured at his Marsden park store in north-west Sydney

Shortly before his fourteenth birthday Dilan applied for a job at the Greenfield Park outlet after spotting an opportunity on the Pizza Hut website careers page.

He began as a pizza maker, then did shifts washing dishes. He is pictured far left at the Greenfield Park store aged 16

Dilan ensures everything is clean ahead of opening his restaurant, checks stock and arranges ordering.

He makes dough, cooks pizzas and serves customers - 'ensuring they leave with a smile'

When not running the business Dilan is at home with his parents. He has three older siblings - two brothers and a sister - and tries to treat Tuesdays and Sundays as days of rest. 

Dilan's early childhood was spent in Batnaya, an Assyrian town in northern Iraq near Mosul, and his family, who are Chaldean Catholics, emigrated to Australia in 2008.

He did not speak English.

Settling in Sydney's west, Dilan went to Bossley Park Primary School and Bossley Park High School. He finished Year 12 at the end of last year.

Dilan's father Salim Tobia, 77, was an English teacher in Iraq then an interpreter once the family moved to Australia.
Mother Habeba Gorgis, 60, now helps out at the Marsden Park store. 

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Dilan was born in Iraq and came to Australia aged seven. He is pictured as a four-year-old with his mother Habeba Gorgis

As a child Dilan enjoyed soccer and video games and played cricket in the Primary School Sport Association competition.

At school his favourite subjects were software design and development, and hospitality.

'Of course, making pizzas was a big hobby of mine as well,' he said.

'As expected, my family and I weren't familiar with rossi's pizza orlando Hut until we arrived in Australia. 

'When I was about eight years old, I started eating pizza and I remember I used to go to my local Pizza Hut to watch the boys making the pizza.

'It was really entertaining and fun to watch as a kid.' 

The family ordered pick-up pizzas from the Greenfield Park store every week.

Pepperoni was Dilan's topping of choice. 

Shortly before his fourteenth birthday Dilan applied for a job at the Greenfield Park outlet after spotting an opportunity on the Pizza Hut website careers page.

Dilan's father Salim Tobia, 77, was an English teacher then an interpreter.

Mother Habeba Gorgis, 60, now helps out at the Marsden Park store. Mother, father and son are pictured

The Marsden Park store goes through 410 kilograms of dough a week and 250 kilograms of that is used between Friday and Sunday.

Dilan's personal favourite pizza is a BBQ Meat Lovers with aioli drizzled on top

Dilan began as a pizza maker, then did shifts washing dishes before moving into customer service.  

'Having worked in a number of positions I quickly became an all-rounder which led me to securing a manager role at the age of 18,' he said.

Dilan is pictured aged 16 working at the  Greenfield Park Pizza Hut store

Being manager was still not enough for the ambitious young man - he wanted to own a store.  'I thought of the idea when I was about 16 years old,' he said.

'In the beginning, my family supported me financially to get the store up and running. 

'However, one of my main motivators for becoming a franchisee was so that I could support my family financially in the long run. 

'My dad had bypass surgery two years ago, which was a really tough time for me. 

'I was overthinking a lot and wanted to make sure that someone would be able to take care of the family if he had to stop working.'

Dilan, who turned 19 in June, is responsible for a team of employees aged 15 to 23 and he works 30 to 50 hours each week. 

'Leadership is my biggest responsibility,' he said.

'My main focus is on creating a friendly environment for everyone in the workplace. 

'My team treats each other as family instead of employees which creates a positive atmosphere, and so ensuring that it stays this way is really important to me.'

The Marsden Park store goes through 410 kilograms of dough a week and 250 kilograms of that is used between Friday and Sunday. 

Dilan's personal favourite pizza is a BBQ Meat Lovers with aioli drizzled on top.

As for the controversial issue of whether pineapple is an acceptable topping, Dilan's position is clear.

'Pineapple definitely belongs on pizza, but it has to be the right pizza.'

Today Dilan employs 17 staff at the Marsden Park Pizza Hut in north-west Sydney - including several mates who had struggled to find employment because of the COVID-19 pandemic