The History of Papa John’s: From a Small Pizza Shop to a Global Chain

Papa John’s is one of the largest pizza chains in the world, with over 5,000 locations in 45 countries. But it all started with a small pizza shop in Jeffersonville, Indiana. In this article, we’ll take a look at the history of Papa John’s, from its humble beginnings to its global success.

The Early Days of Papa John’s

In 1984, John Schnatter started delivering pizzas out of his father’s tavern in Jeffersonville. He quickly realized that he had a talent for making delicious pizza and decided to open his own restaurant. With the help of his family and friends, Schnatter opened the first Papa John’s restaurant in October 1984.

The restaurant was an instant success, thanks to Schnatter’s commitment to using only fresh ingredients and quality cheese. By the end of the year, he had opened four more locations in nearby towns.

The Growth of Papa John’s

Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, Papa John’s continued to expand across Indiana and into neighboring states. In 1993, they went public on the NASDAQ stock exchange and raised $25 million for further expansion.

By the end of the decade, there were over 1,000 Papa John’s locations across the United States. They had also expanded into international markets like Mexico and South Korea.


Challenges Faced by Papa John’s

In recent years, Papa John’s has faced some challenges that have threatened its success. In 2017, founder John Schnatter came under fire for making controversial comments about NFL players protesting during the national anthem. This led to him stepping down as CEO and being removed from all marketing materials.

The company also faced criticism over their treatment of franchisees and employees. In response to these challenges, Papa John’s has implemented new policies and initiatives to improve their image and strengthen their relationships with franchisees.


Papa John’s Today

Despite these challenges, Papa John’s remains a popular and successful pizza chain. They continue to expand into new markets around the world, including opening their first locations in Spain and Portugal in 2021.

Papa John’s has also introduced new menu items like vegan pizza and made changes to their ingredients to appeal to health-conscious consumers. They have also invested in technology like online ordering and mobile apps to make it easier for customers to order their favorite pizzas.


In conclusion, the history of Papa John’s is a story of hard work, dedication, and innovation. From a small pizza shop in Indiana to a global chain with over 5,000 locations, Papa John’s has come a long way. Despite facing some challenges along the way, they remain committed to providing delicious pizza made with fresh ingredients and quality cheese.

This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.