Papa John Schnatter: Founder & CEO, Papa John's Pizza.

Essay by Britny September 2005

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While working at a local pizza place, John Schnatter, founder of Papa John's realized there was something missing from pizza chains across the country: a superior-quality traditional pizza that was delivered to customer's door. His dream was to one day open a pizza restaurant that would fill those criteria.

In 1984, "Papa" John Schnatter knocked out a broom closet located in the back of his father's tavern, Mick's Lounge, and sold his prized 1972 Z28 Camaro. He then went on to purchase $1,600 worth of used restaurant equipment, and started selling his pizzas to the tavern's customers. The pizza was so successful, that Schatter was able to expand into an adjoining space, ultimately leading to the opening of the first Papa John's restaurant in 1985.

While attending Ball State University, where he graduated with a business degree of three years, John worked at another pizzeria, learning the techniques and tastes that would become Papa John's trademark.

"I liked everything about the pizza business," he says. "I liked making the dough; I liked kneading the dough. I liked putting the sauce on. I liked putting the toppings on. I liked running the oven. Just from the get-go, I fell in love with the business."

For the fourth consecutive year, Papa John's has been rated number one in customer satisfaction among all national fast food restaurants in the American Customer Satisfaction Index released by the National Quality Research Center at the University of Michigan Business School (1999, 2000, 2001, 2002). Papa John's finished well above the national average for all fast food chains.

The new, once single franchize company now rivals the Big Pie: Pizza Hut, which recently won a lawsuit over Papa John's trademark slogan, "Better Ingredients. Better Pizza." A federal judge ordered Papa John's to stop using the slogan and...