Papa Johns pizza company has made headlines in recent years. Here's a look at what happened (2024)

On March 21, Papa Johnsannouncedvia an SEC filing that its president and CEO, Robert Lynch, has resigned, effective March 20, to take a CEO role with another corporation.

"This was an incredibly difficult decision for me, as I see all of the upside potential that exists for this great company," Lynch said in a release. "That being said, I feel good about this decision knowing that Papa Johns is very well positioned for both the short and long term. I am certain that Papa Johns’ incredible leaders, franchisees and team members will continue to do what only Papa Johns can: deliver better pizza to the world."

On Wednesday, the Louisville-area-founded pizza chain announced it will close 43 of its 450 UK shops, including 16 in London, by mid-May.

It’s been a bumpy few years for the brand, currently based in the Louisville and Atlanta metro areas.

When was Papa Johns founded?

John Schnatter launched the pizza company as Papa John’s from his family's Jeffersonville, Indiana, bar in 1984. Ten years later, it has grown to 500 Papa John's stores nationwide. In 1999, the company moved into its Louisville corporate headquarters.

Why did Papa Johns’ founder step down as CEO?

In January 2018, Schnatter stepped down as the CEO of the company following criticism of NFL leadership for its handling of player protests during the national anthem;publicly blaming it for a decline in pizza sales.

Papa Johns pizza company has made headlines in recent years. Here's a look at what happened (1)

Why did Papa Johns’ founder step down as chairman?

In July 2018, Schnatter resigned from his position as chairman of Papa Johns after admitting he used the N-word on a public relations call. He also resigned from the University of Louisville's board of trustees.

Schools and other organizations distanced themselves from Papa Johns’ founder.

John Schnatter has donated millions of dollars, with his name affixed to everything from college buildings to football stadiums. But in 2018, manyorganizations cut tieswith him.

  • Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore returned a $400,000 donation from Schnatter, and moved to pull his name from a historic gym. The donation was part of an agreement to donate $800,000 over time to help renovate the Nachand Fieldhouse, a decades-old gym that in 2017 was renamed to the John H. Schnatter – Nachand Fieldhouse.
  • The University of Louisville removed Papa Johns as the title sponsor for Cardinal Stadium.
  • Purdue University stripped Schnatter’s name from the economic research center at its Krannert School of Management, to which he’d donated $8 million and offered to return the money.
  • Ball State, in early August 2018, had an economics program in Schnatter’s name and stood by the alumnus, issuing statement saying that Schnatter used the slur "not in a derogatory manner seeking to demean any individuals or groups; rather it was used as an example of improper conduct."

Schnatter graduated from Ball State with a major in business administration in 1983, and was given an honorary doctorate of laws when he spoke at Ball State's commencement in 2015. In 2016, the Charles Koch Foundation and Schnatter donated $3.25 million to Ball State for the creation of the John H. Schnatter Institute for Entrepreneurship and Free Enterprise.

But later in August 2018, Ball State trustees changed course on Papa John's controversy, and voted to remove Schnatter’s name from both the institute and a distinguished professorship of free enterprise and return the money donated by the Schnatter Family Foundation.

Is Papa Johns leaving Kentucky?

In September 2020, the pizza giant announced it would be moving the company’s global headquarters to Atlanta. At the time, the company said about 550 of its 750 corporate jobs would remain in Kentucky.

In February 2023, citing a change in workforce needs, the company announcedplans to sell its Louisville corporate headquarters officeat 2002 Papa Johns Blvd.

The company said employees would still physically work in Louisville.

October, Papa Johns announced it would retain the office.

Papa Johns changed its name.

In 2021, Papa Johns rebranded and removed the apostrophe from the company name, another step in moving away from company founder Schnatter.

Shaq is leaving the Papa Johns Board of Directors.

In Febraury 2023, Max Wetzel, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Papa Johns, based in Atlanta, announced his intention to resign from his position; and Board of Directors member Olivia Kirtley, based in Louisville, announced her retirement from the board after nearly 20 years.

In February 2024, the companyannouncedthat Shaquille O’Neal, a brand ambassador of the company and an investor of nine Papa Johns locations in Atlanta, would not seek reelecton to be a part of the Papa Johns' board of directors. He’d been a part of the leadership of the company for five years. His term on the board ends May 2. The decision came as O'Neal was involved in many other businesses, according to the release.

Seth Slabaugh, The Star Press; Justin L. Mack, IndyStar; Courier Journal reporters Olivia Evans, Ana Rocío Álvarez Bríñez and Matt Glowicki ;and the Lafayette Journal & Courier contributed to this report.

Contact IndyStar reporter Cheryl V. Jackson at or 317-444-6264. Follow her on

Papa Johns pizza company has made headlines in recent years. Here's a look at what happened (2024)


What happened to Papa Johns? ›

Papa Johns changed its name.

In 2021, Papa Johns rebranded and removed the apostrophe from the company name, another step in moving away from company founder Schnatter.

Why is Papa Johns failing? ›

Papa Johns' weak organic delivery numbers contribute to 2% same-store sales decline. Papa Johns' customers are spending less than they had previously, and when they do spend money on pizza, they are more likely to choose third-party aggregators over the company's first-party delivery channels.

Is Papa Johns closing in 2024? ›

Global pizza chain Papa John's has revealed that it plans to shut down 43 restaurants across the UK in the coming months, with 16 in London to close. It comes as the takeaway business confirmed plans to axe the “underperforming” locations after launching a review at the start of 2024.

What is Papa Johns new tagline? ›

Follow him on LinkedIn. Recent quotes from Papa John's leadership in a story focusing on the grammar of their new tagline, “Better Get You Some,” put the brand in the hot seat as the court of public opinion convened on its use of African American Vernacular English and the rich culture that supports the dialect.

Why has Papa Johns closed? ›

Pizza chain Papa Johns has said it will close nearly a tenth of its UK restaurants - all of which it says are "underperforming". The closures follow a review of the business which identified sites that were "no longer financially viable".

Why did Papa Johns get sued? ›

The Reason for the Class-Action Lawsuit

In 2010, Papa John's began sending text messages to customers. The messages advertised deals and specials for its pizza. The messages were sent in bulk, with some customers reportedly receiving 15 text messages consecutively, even at odd hours of the night.

Is Papa Johns declining? ›

Papa John's operating income also saw a downturn, decreasing by 11% to $33.71m compared to $37.79m in Q1 2023. Papa John's global system-wide restaurant sales were $1.23bn, a marginal 0.9% decrease from the previous year's Q1.

What is the failure rate of Papa Johns franchise? ›

What is the failure rate for a Papa John's franchise? Low to moderate. The failure rate for a Papa John's franchise is 2% in the first year, rising to 6% by year three.

Is Papa Johns in debt? ›

Total debt on the balance sheet as of March 2024 : $0.96 B

According to Papa John's Pizza 's latest financial reports the company's total debt is $0.96 B. A company's total debt is the sum of all current and non-current debts.

What is Papa Johns changing its name to? ›

“Papa John's” will now be known as “Papa Johns” in its branding and marketing. The company name, Papa John's International, will not be changing its name, a spokesperson said. The company also unveiled a new, apostrophe-free logo and a new restaurant logo, according to the news release.

Is Papa Johns still in Russia? ›

Papa John's International said last week that it was suspending all of its corporate operations in Russia, following in the footsteps of other high-profile American brands like McDonald's and Starbucks. However, the 190 Papa John's restaurants in the country are still open and selling pizzas.

Who owns Papa Johns in USA? ›

The majority shareholder of Papa John's is T. Rowe Price Investment Management, Inc., holding 11.38% of the company as of August 24, 2023. This significant stake underscores the investment firm's confidence in the pizza chain's growth and strategy.

What is Papa Johns slogan for 2024? ›

® Better Get You Some. ATLANTA --(BUSINESS WIRE)--Apr. 2, 2024-- Papa Johns announced today an all-new brand platform Better Get You Some, which elevates the brand's pizza superiority and iconic brand promise – Better Ingredients. Better Pizza.

What is so great about Papa Johns? ›

We don't use cheap and more processed ingredients. Whether it's our signature sauce, toppings, our original fresh dough, or even the box itself, we invest in our ingredients to ensure that we always give you the finest quality pizza.

What is Papa Johns values? ›

Our Values

PEOPLE FIRST: We focus on customers and team members. EVERYONE BELONGS: Diversity, equity, inclusion and teamwork are essential in everything we do. DO THE RIGHT THING: At Papa John's, integrity, character and community are at the heart of our culture.

Why is Papa Johns changing their name? ›

As noted by the outlet, removing the apostrophe may be yet another way that Papa Johns is distancing itself from founder John Schnatter. Schnatter had stepped down as CEO in 2018 after criticizing the NFL (which Papa John's had sponsored) for its handling of the national anthem kneeling protests.

Did Shaquille O'Neal buy Papa Johns? ›

Does Shaq own Papa John's Pizza? Shaquille O'Neal owns Papa Johns in a very loose sense, in that he is a franchise owner in Atlanta GA with nine stores, he sits on the board of directors for the company, and he owns stock in the company. What was Shaquille O'Neal's career like after he left the Los Angeles Lakers?

Who is John Schnatter's wife? ›

Who is the original owner of Papa Johns? ›

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