Papa John’s moves further from founder with new Atlanta HQ

Richard Clough

Pizza purveyor Papa John’s announced plans Thursday to open a new Atlanta-area facility housing several key departments along with about 200 jobs.

The pizza delivery company said in a news release that the location will be one of three global headquarters, along with its Louisville office and its international hub outside of London. The Georgia location and associated organizational changes are expected to be complete by next summer.

In this Oct. 18, 2017, file photo, Papa John's founder and CEO John Schnatter attends a meeting in Louisville, Ky.

The plan comes as Papa John’s charts a new strategic course after fallout with its founder, John Schnatter, and as its stock price rises amid growing demand during the coronavirus pandemic.

Schnatter, who founded the company in 1984, stepped down as CEO in late 2017 after he faced criticism for blaming disappointing sales on NFL player protests and used a racial slur during a company conference call.

“Metro Atlanta’s deep talent pool and its world-class airport connecting us to the domestic and international markets that are key to our brand’s future will accelerate our long-term growth,” president and CEO Rob Lynch said in a statement.

Lynch, who was named CEO of Papa John’s last year, was previously president of Arby’s, which is also headquartered in Atlanta.

Papa John's President & CEO Rob Lynch is photographed at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019.

Papa John’s new metro-Atlanta office will house departments including menu innovation, marketing, human resources, communications and development, while IT, supply chain and legal teams will stay at their Louisville, Kentucky location, the news release says. The company is looking at multiple potential locations around Atlanta and expects to select a site by the end of 2020.

The company has more than 5,300 locations worldwide.

“It’s a pleasure to welcome Papa John’s to the strong list of internationally known U.S. companies that have chosen the Peach State for their global headquarters,” Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said in a statement.


This story has been corrected to reflect that Papa John’s said that three of its offices will now be considered headquarters.