When was the last time you had a pizza from Papa John’s? Did it make you think about the rise and fall of this pizza empire? Papa John’s is one of those companies that may never get past their current scandal. However, did you know that they have some equally worse skeletons in their closet? So here are the top 10 untold truths of Papa John’s Pizza.
10. The Company Is At Its Lowest Of Lows
Papa John’s was once a company that was considered respectable and a great place to work for. Unfortunately, the last couple of years the company has been littered with negativity and drama. Starting from the ground up. The customer service employees have been embroiled with the law over selling illegal items out of storefronts. The higher-ups have been accused of everything from harassment, bad work practices and “bro-culture”. An interview with Forbes magazine given by a number of mostly anonymous sources blew the whistle on the company. It is now described as being at its lowest point ever. There is no question that Papa John’s has a lot of explaining to do, creator John Schnatter has been in the public a lot lately, stocks have plummeted and several locations are in fear of shutting down. Yea, we would agree, this has to be the lowest point for the company. Going from having several endorsements with the NFL, including several one one one sports deals, NASA and a whole host of other companies. Schnatter was even forced to step down as CEO of his own company. But, more on that later. The pizza joint that was once considered humble and in its prime has now experienced backlash from every angle. The worst can be seen on social media where formers fans and current fans duke it out over everything from who has the best pizza to deciding whether Schnatter was should be left off the hook for his unfortunate comments.
9. The Work Environment was not OK
For the past several years Papa John’s employees have been complaining about unfair treatment in the workplace. Employees made serious accusations regarding John Schnatter, the “bro-culture” he encouraged, stalking (yes two female employees accused Schnatter of stalking them), sexual harassment (again, by Schnatter), pitting people against one another and even spying. Employees told Forbes magazine that they didn’t always feel safe working there or equal to one another. They described the environment as toxic. This was the first time people had spoken out about the company. This is simply because before Schnatter was asked to step down employees were tied to NDAs forcing them to never speak about Schnatter or his personal life. Clearly, we can see where his loyalty lies. Normally an NDA is meant to protect the company not exactly the person who created it. Yet, many employees stated that their entire NDA was adhered to protecting Schnatter. If that isn’t suspicious, then what is? Another accusation in the form of sexual harassment came when a former employee talked about what happened behind closed doors in the company’s office. Sexual harassment and horrible treatment of female employees. The company had reportedly secretly settled several cases of sexual harassment against Schnatter and other higher-ups.
8. Would You Like Some Drugs With Your Pizza?
It’s not only the CEO who makes headlines when it comes to Papa John’s the lower level employees do as well. A Washington State location was caught distributing drugs with their pizza. The code word was “extra olives” and you could get a choice of cocaine, Oxycodone, LSD, ecstasy, marijuana, and methamphetamine. The police eventually caught on and ran a few sting operations there until they had enough to arrest the people involved. “Operation Extra Olives” took place in 2017 and the people involved are still being processed. Another incident took place in 2013 in New York where a delivery man was dropping off more than just pizza. He eventually sold $40,000 worth of cocaine to undercover officers. After the 2017 incident, the company issued this statement. “Papa John’s has zero tolerance for this type of offensive and illegal behavior. The franchise has confirmed that the employees involved with the situation are no longer employed and we apologize for their actions. The franchise is working in full cooperation with local law enforcement to resolve this matter.” Talk about embarrassing. This company is one that certainly cannot handle any more bad press. How do they keep hiring the bad apples? Maybe all the franchise need a training on how to seek out and hire reputable employees. Or, maybe they are just taking their cuees from the higher ups.
7. They’ve Been Sued, Like A Lot
This company just can’t catch a break. They just keep putting that foot in their mouth. Papa John’s has been sued a number of times. It seems like when one lawsuit finishes another one starts, they have been sued for sending text messages that were considered harassment, Schnatter’s behavior, and overcharging customers. The company has always fought back but they haven’t always won. Take for example the 19,000 delivery drivers that sued them because they were being severely underpaid to the tune of $12.3 million. That’s no small change split 19,000 ways is still good enough for a few fancy dinners. The company was later sued again for bombarding their customers with promotional text messages. They were also sued for harassment and spamming. Each plaintiff was set to receive at least $500.00 each for the disruption. However, one guy claimed mental anguish when he was bombarded with deals for two large, 5-topping pizzas for $9.99. Maybe he just went through a break-up and was only eating for one now. Either way, he had a separate lawsuit that is yet to be settled. He claimed that the text messages were so sorely disruptive that his mental health was taking a beating. We have to admit if we were bombarded with pizza promotions we too would have a severe breaking point.
6. Even Pizza Hut Sued Them
Even Pizza Hut had a beef with Papa John’s. Back in 1998, the Hut accused them of false advertising. They claimed that they couldn’t back up their slogan “Better Ingredients, Better Pizza”. There was no physical evidence that their ingredients were of better quality. Pizza Hut essentially wanted them to change their slogan. So, you may think that this is a ridiculous lawsuit but there is an actual law against this. It’s called the Lanham Act. It essentially protects consumers from purposefully misleading advertising. Pizza Hut won this lawsuit and Papa John’s was forced to pull all of their misleading marketing material. But PJ’s wasn’t going down without a fight. They appealed claiming that this is a matter of opinion and not a fact they even gave an example of how Pizza Hut could too go through this. They said, “there was no scientific proof that Pizza Hut had the “best pizza under one roof,” so what gives?” this ticked off Pizza Hut and so the rivalry begins. To this day Pizza Hut has a problem with Papa John’s it seems like they can’t let go of that grudge, To be honest, the hut is probably extremely happy with all the negativity surrounding their rivals. It’s now their one and probably only chance to swoop in and take the top spot.
5. Secret Shoppers Near You
After all the negativity that followed Papa John’s these past few years, it’s nice to know that at one point they had standards. Standards that were taken so seriously that they took it upon themselves to hire secret shoppers. Yes, they hired mystery shoppers to show up to their locations and essentially spy on the employees and managers. They were looking for a few key things like making sure the taste of their pizza was up to standards and overall quality control. Owner John Schnatter started this initiative in 1999 after he noticed a decline in his companies sales. The idea was a success and their sales went through the roof. Every location that was found to have low standards received new training, hired more reliable people who would ensure that the brand would always be of high quality. It’s the little things like this that make us wonder how a man so business savvy could also be so ridiculous. To be fair, he never claimed to be anyone but someone who started a successful business. Therefore, we can’t be too harsh on him and what he does or says in his personal life. But, we do, however, expect him to practice what he preaches and there is no way he would be okay with things like harassment, lies and “bro-culture” that could possibly ruin the companies reputation.
4. Papa John Made Some Insensitive Comments
As we mentioned earlier, the founder of Papa John’s, John Schnatter stepped down in the summer of 2018. This came after the business mogul was caught saying some pretty racially insensitive things. A whistleblower called out Schnatter after using a racist word during a conference call. Of course, this scandal put him on everyone’s bad list. As quickly as the endorsements came was as quickly as they pulled out of having the pizza empire represent them. During a conference in May, Schnatter tried to justify his use of the racial slur. He said, “”Colonel Sanders” called black people the same slur while lamenting he never faced consequences for that”. Okay, not the best way to defend yourself. Doesn’t he know that just because someone else does something doesn’t mean you have to do it as well? You know the whole jumping off a bridge saying. Schnatter went on to try to defend his actions some more. He told CNN. “It wasn’t a slur. It was a session on strategy and media planning and training, and I repeated something that somebody else said, and said we’re not going to say that, “We don’t use that kind of language and vocabulary. And sure, it got taken out of context, and sure, it got twisted, but that doesn’t matter. I hurt people’s feelings. That’s what matters here. And for that I’m sorry.” his apology didn’t work, people are still mad. However, it was big of him to actually say the words “I’m sorry” most people avoid those two words when they are making public apologies especially when they know they are wrong.
3. “Better Ingredients, Better Pizza”
But what are those ingredients really? Papa John’s implemented this slogan way back in 1995. So, they should be willing and ready to tell customers what those “better ingredients” are, right? But, no such luck for one reporter named Melanie Warren. The journalist went on a quest to find out what those better ingredients were however, she quickly found herself stonewalled at every turn. Their website didn’t offer an ingredient list, so she turned to the head office but received no callbacks. She eventually walked into a local Papa John’s and asked the employees who MAKE the pizzas and even they couldn’t offer her any information. In fact, they flat out said they too had no idea what their “better ingredients” are. This is odd for several reasons but the thing that makes the company look most suspect is the fact that almost every other food chains especially the ones as big as Papa John’s has their ingredient list published on their websites. Some chains like McDonald’s and Wendy’s ever had it on those paper placemats that come with the tray. What can we really expect from a company run by a CEO sorry, former CEO that has his own shady past? They eventually published their ingredient list on their website but after all that it just doesn’t seem genuine. And, how do we know that they are being truthful after so many years of dodging the question?
2. They Leaked Iggy Azalea’s Phone Number
Remember this little bit of scandal back in 2015? The rapper did what every normal person does, she ordered a pizza from Papa John’s and couldn’t wait to chow down. The driver who dropped the pizza off realized it was Iggy Azalea and saved the number she ordered the pizza with. Unfortunately for Iggy, this was her actual phone number, not her assistant or friend, and the delivery driver decided to just tweeted it out and shared it with the world. His family members were calling Iggy like they were old friends. Iggy called out the pizza chain on Twitter but only after she tried to rectify the situation privately through phone calls and emails. She went to the company, told them about the situation and asked if they could help her identify the driver maybe in hopes that he would be fired or at least reprimanded for his ridiculous act. But, like everything else, they didn’t take it seriously and her Twitter stans took up for her in the most aggressive way possible. They basically boycotted Papa John’s. Eventually, the company issued her an apology but it was basically too little, too late. During an interview with Ryan Seacrest In The Morning, the rapper said that she will not be pursuing legal action and that all have been forgiven. The company certainly dodged a bullet with this one because if this was someone bigger like say, Beyonce not only would the hive be after them but the power couple would probably own the company when they were done exacting revenge.
1. Their Humble Beginnings Were Very Humble
Papa John’s wasn’t always a company riddled with embarrassing, company ending drama. When the company first started out founder John Schnatter made his pizzas wherever he could, this included his first pseudo shop a broom closet. Schnatter’s father owned a tavern and once he helped his father stabilize the success of this tavern he knocked out the wall in the broom closet and got to work. With used equipment, he started making pizza and selling it out of that broom closet. He hustled and made his own deliveries. He eventually made enough to open his own small storefront. The business is so successful now (scandals aside) there are 4,700 restaurants around the world. This includes 2,700 international shops in 37 different countries. Not many pizza companies can boast numbers like that. Imagine coming from a broom closet to this. We can see why Schnatter is so cocky and feels as though his opinion always matters. Normally when someone starts a business while still in college plans go by the wayside, things change, life gets in the way but this time he saw it through and it paid off. Only now, he is going to have to sit tight while this scandal rocks his world. It may be safe to say that John Schnatter’s face has graced the last NFL billboard.