John Schnatter, our founder began his pizza career in high school as a dishwasher at Rocky's Sub Pub in Jeffersonville, Indiana.
It was after his promotion to "pizza maker" that John's interest in the pizza industry peaked. Throughout his high school and college days, John continued working in pizzerias, all the while taking notes about what worked for each location.
Even then he knew that there was something missing from national pizza chains: a superior-quality, traditional pizza delivered to the customer's door. His dream was to one day open a pizza restaurant that would fill that void. John was so focused on this dream that he asked a college dorm mate to create a logo, thus bringing "Papa John's" to life.
After graduating from Ball State University in 1983, John returned to Jeffersonville where his father owned a tavern, Mick's Lounge, that was $64,000 in debt. John's dad asked him to put his newly acquired business degree to work and help pull the tavern out of debt. John decreased the debt by increasing the price of the pool tables and lowering the price of beer. Once Mick's was on its way to showing a profit, John began to focus again on his first true love, pizza.
He decided the folks at Mick's might be willing to buy it so he knocked out a broom closet in the back of the tavern, sold his prized 1972 Z28 Camaro and bought $1,600 worth of used restaurant equipment. The customers loved the pizza so much that John was able to expand by moving into adjoining space in 1984, eventually leading to the opening of the first Papa John's restaurant in 1985.
Today, Papa John's is the third largest pizza company in the USA with over 2500 stores in North America alone. Most importantly, Papa John's is the recognized quality leader among national pizza companies and today remains committed to its heritage of making a superior-quality, traditional pizza.