You may have seen our first Papa John’s article, but now it’s time to dig a little deeper into the beast of the pizza oven and take a bite out of the Top 10 Untold Truths of Papa John’s …Part 2!
10. Papa John’s pizza had humble beginnings
Papa John’s didn’t start as a large pizza franchise, it was started by a young man who had a dream of making a living off of delivering great quality pizza. John Schnatter worked at a local pizza place when he was a teenager, and that is where his love of pizza making began. Lucky for him, he picked up some tips and tricks of the pizza trade, and had developed an idea of what he would do differently if he was the one running the pizza shop. His ideas for better pizza started with using better quality ingredients, a tradition that would carry on through the continued future success of the company. These ideas would prove to work out well for him, and would help John start one of the most successful international pizza franchises the world has seen. Before there was Papa John’s, John Schnatter was just a regular university student, with an idea in the back of his head for one day owning a pizza restaurant. Upon leaving Ball State University and returning home to live with his parents, John found that his father’s bar was struggling financially. He did his best to come up with ways to help his father save his bar, and then an idea hit him, and he decided to run with it. John sold his only car, a 1972 Camaro Z28 and put the money toward helping out his father. He used the funds to purchase some used kitchen equipment and set it up in a broom closet in the back of his father’s bar. From there he began making and serving pizzas to the customers who came into the bar. Word spread quickly about the delicious pizzas, and the customer base for both John and his father grew together. Soon the bar was back on its feet and John had made enough money to move into an adjoining space beside his father’s bar, and so the business grew for the first time, but no one could predict just how big it would end up becoming.
9. Papa John never forgot the car he sold
In 1984 John Schnatter had sold his prized possession, a 1971 Camaro Z28, in order to fund his dream of owning a pizza shop. He was able to use the funds he received from selling the car to purchase everything he needed to start making the first versions of the now well-known and well-loved Papa John’s pizzas. John’s dream was not without its sacrifices, as the car had meant a lot to him. Despite the sentimental value of the car, he knew he had to let it go if he had any hopes of making his pizza dreams come true. Luckily for John, his pizza business grew bigger than he could have imagined when he first sold the car in order to purchase some used kitchen equipment. John Schnatter probably never thought that a few years down the road he would be in a financial position that he would be able to track down and buy back the car that had meant so much to him. In 2009, John was able to track down his old car and he purchased it from the current owner for a generous amount of $250,000. 38 years after he’d sold it in order to fund his dream, John Schnatter was reunited with the car that meant the world to him as a young adult. After he was able to purchase the vehicle back, he actually lost it once more when it was stolen during a car show in 2015. John was reunited with the vehicle for a second time when it was found abandoned in a driveway of an unoccupied home. John was so grateful for the return of his car that he issued a $16,000 reward to the person who discovered the location of the vehicle and alerted the local police to its whereabouts.
8. Papa John’s isn’t as strict with franchisees as a lot of other franchise restaurants
Papa John’s of course has standards for their franchises, each location must be built on an approved location, and the company oversees the building of each new franchise, but they are a little more lenient on certain things than some other companies. For one, they allow franchisees to own more than one restaurant. This means that as long as you have the funds to pay the franchise fee, the required net worth, and the money to build your location, you may own as many locations as you wish. They also offer incentives to current and future franchisees which include things such as covering some of the start-up costs themselves. Papa John’s also does not require a franchise owner to have any experience in the pizza making business. This allows a person to own a franchise without having to have worked a certain number of weeks or months at a Papa John’s location. Franchisees are then free to hire experienced and knowledgeable staff who are able to run the day-to-day operations, leaving the owner to deal with the big picture stuff. This franchise model has so far been proven to work, as Papa John’s now has over 5,200 franchised restaurants in operation worldwide. In the United States in 2017, Papa John’s was the third largest pizza retailer with a total of 5,097 franchises across the country, showing that Papa John’s franchises are in demand across the United States, and the franchise model set in place by the pizza retailer seems to be working in other countries as well.
7. They provide on-going support for franchisees
On top of the more lenient requirements to open your franchise, Papa John’s also provides support for new and current franchises. Each franchise is offered help with their grand openings, mostly in the form of marketing ideas to help them drive business in their first few months. Papa John’s grand openings include all sorts of things to celebrate the opening of the store, going from small celebrations with discounts and deals on pizza orders, to large celebrations with live music and appearances from local celebrities and politicians. Each franchise pays a fluctuating fee based on their income, and that money goes towards marketing for Papa John’s as a whole, and marketing for individual stores based on their needs. This marketing fee also includes ongoing support for all marketing needs of the individual franchise for the entire duration of operation. They continue to offer any necessary support to each Papa John’s franchise for as long as they are in business. This is often more than other big-name franchises offer to their franchisees. With a proven franchising method and standards, Papa John’s continues to grow with more and more franchisees being added to their team every year. With constant year over year growth of locations, there’s no telling how many Papa John’s franchises we may see in the future. As long as the company continues to offer great support to their franchise partners, they will likely see many more additions to their franchising teams.
6. Papa John’s donates to and sponsors great charities worldwide
Papa John’s may not be known for their charity work, but the truth is they do a lot for some great organizations, it may just be going unnoticed by the average customer. Some great examples of Papa John’s charitability can be found quite easily if you actually go looking for them. In 2017 Papa John’s held their first ever Charity Challenge, a golf tournament they hosted, all proceeds went directly to Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center in order to fund their cancer research. They were able to raise over $80,000 and have plans to make it an annual event. In the UK, Papa Johns is a sponsor of an organization which partners with various companies to raise money for charities. They have been a partner with this company since November 2015 and have raised money for various charities since including Make-A-Wish UK and National Deaf Children’s Society. Papa John’s Canada teamed up with KidSport Alberta which provides registration fees for school aged children who wish to play organized sports but who’s families are not able to afford the fees otherwise. There are a lot more examples of Papa John’s great charity contributions, a whole list could be written of their fundraising efforts alone. Many Papa John’s customers may not know about most of these contributions, but Papa John’s continues to donate and fundraise and will most likely continue as long as they are operating. It is always a great thing to see large businesses giving back to their communities, and each division of Papa John’s international company provides fundraising opportunities for their chosen local charities.
5. Papa John’s famous pepperoncini
Papa John’s pizza is known for a few things, but one of the things people know and love most about Papa John’s is the free pepper that comes with every pizza. This is one of the many things that John Schnatter picked up from working in a pizza shop when he was a teenager. Ever since his first pizza, John has served every pizza with one of his signature pepperoncini peppers. This little pepper has proved so popular that when the pizza chain tested taking it out of the box, there was a pretty tremendous customer backlash. They quickly added it back in, and probably don’t have any future plans of attempting to remove it again. It’s pretty easy to imagine that Papa John’s goes through a lot of the peppers, with one being placed with each pizza ordered from one of Papa John’s 5,199 locations. There was a point in the 90’s that Papa John’s was growing so fast that their Turkish suppliers couldn’t even keep up with the demand for the peppers. The demand from Papa John’s growth caused a worldwide shortage of the pepper, which is pretty impressive for one pizza chain. The combination of peppers on the side of pizza is surprisingly not a common thing, typically it’s a thing that’s done in Indiana, where Papa John’s founder comes from. All in all, some people may not notice the pepper, and some may love it, but everyone knows that each Papa John’s pizza box will have that little green-yellow bonus inside.
4. Dipping sauce is one of their signatures
Many people enjoy dipping sauce for their pizzas, especially dipping the crust after you’ve eaten the rest of the slice. What many people don’t know, is that in 1985 Papa John’s came up with the idea for specific dipping sauce made for dipping pizza in. Dipping sauces have been around for a long time, with a variety of things used to dip in those sauces. Pizza places used to market those sauces with a variety of bread dishes, including things like cheesy bread and garlic bread. It wasn’t until Papa John’s came up with the first marketing for dipping pizza in these sauces that it really took off as an add on. There is quite a bit of selection when it comes to dipping sauces for pizza, but for Papa John’s, there’s an age-old sauce that has been used since the first Papa John’s pizza was made, and that’s the popular garlic dipping sauce that comes with almost every Papa John’s pizza. Though there have been a few changes to this garlic dipping sauce over the years, including a few healthier switches, the base of the dipping sauce has remained the same since Papa John’s first pizza. Some people like this dipping sauce so much, they’ll even dip the crust in it and eat it first before eating the rest of the slice. Needless to say, Papa John’s innovation of using these dips for pizza has taken off, and almost every pizza company today offers a selection of dipping sauce with your pizza.
3. There was a special promotion when Papa John’s opened its 4,000th restaurant
In September of 2012, Papa John’s 4,000th restaurant was opening in New Hyde Park, New York. This event was celebrated by the company as a huge milestone in their history. In order to show their appreciation for the customers who made all of it possible, the 4,000th Papa John’s to open gave away 4,000 free pizzas to customers throughout New York City. These free pizzas were given out in the form of a coupon for one free large pizza to various New York customers. Along with the free large pizza, the company also offered a free, custom made Rawlings baseball to each customer who was given a coupon. Along with the free pizza and commemorative baseball, Papa John’s also held a ribbon cutting ceremony which was attended by several local politicians. Live music, and a raffle were just two of the many entertainment options that were provided during the grand opening of the Papa John’s 4,000th worldwide location. Not every company celebrates milestones quite like Papa John’s, and any milestone celebration held by the company is sure to be memorable for both staff and customers alike.
2. Papa John’s was ahead of its competition when it came to online ordering
These days there are virtually no large pizza companies that don’t allow you to place an order fully online. Online ordering has become a very common thing in households these days, due to the fact that it is convenient and quick when you don’t have time to pick up a pizza or cook for yourself. Papa John’s was the first national pizza chain to make online ordering available to all of its U.S customers in 2002. Though online ordering had been available before then, they were the first to allow all of their customers in the United States access to the service. Their efforts to get every one of their locations on the online ordering service made their pizza easier for their customers to access. Online ordering is the future of food delivery and pick up in all food markets, and Papa John’s is not blind to that fact. The convenience that online ordering affords to customers is a selling point for a lot of people, which makes it a great reason for companies like Papa John’s to get every possible market up and able to order online as soon as possible.
1. Spain is an important market for Papa John’s
In Europe, Spain has proven to be an important market for the large pizza retailer. Papa John’s has only been operating in Spain since 2016, and by 2017 it had grown to a whopping 42 individual restaurants. Their first restaurant opened in Madrid, and in usual Papa John’s fashion a launch party was held for their first store opening in the country. The opening of the locations in Spain not only brought Papa John’s quality pizza to the locals, but it also provided job opportunities for many people. Madrid specifically loved Papa Johns, over half of all of Papa John’s Spanish franchises are located in Madrid. The pizza retailer expects to open at least 100 restaurants just in Madrid alone, and they have plans to expand to other regions across Spain. Spain has so far proven to be Papa John’s second largest European market, and the country seems to love what the restaurants have to offer. As the company continues to grow, we will surely see them expand even further into Spain, and expansion into other countries will soon follow.