Ousted Papa John’s chair blasts pizza after eating 40 in 30 days
John Schnatter is at it again.
Papa John’s International Inc.’s notorious founder and former leader lambasted the pizza chain publicly for the second time in as many months, naming a handful of executives that he says should be jailed while calling out the new chief as having “no pizza experience.”
Schnatter – who made the comments in a local media interview in Louisville, Kentucky, where the restaurant chain is based – also took a dig at the food quality. He said he’s eaten more than 40 pizzas in 30 days, and “it’s not the same pizza.” The company’s shares slipped as much as 1.5% in Tuesday trading.
More: See the video here.
A spokeswoman for Papa John’s didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.
The pizza chain, which got an investment earlier this year from activist investor Starboard Value LP, has been working to mount a comeback following a sales slump and a scandal involving Schnatter’s use of a racist slur that the founder says was taken out of context. Earlier this month, the chain reported better-than-expected quarterly sales and announced a slew of management changes. It had already named in August a new chief executive officer, former Arby’s executive Rob Lynch.
Lynch’s appointment has eased investor concerns, with the company’s share price rising about 28% since he stepped in. Still, Schnatter said he isn’t satisfied, given Lynch has no background in pizza or previous CEO experience. Schnatter also said managers “stole the company” and contends some executives, including director Olivia Kirtley and former director Mark Shapiro, should be in jail.
A spokesman for Schnatter didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment on why he makes that assertion. Shapiro declined to comment, while Kirtley couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Once the largest shareholder, Schnatter still owns at least a 9% stake, according to Bloomberg data. He says he isn’t trying to take it over at this time, but cryptically suggested multiple times that viewers “stay tuned” for more.
“My metaphor is there’s no reason to be in the car when the car crashes, even if you love the car,” he said.