Papa John’s to open HQ in Atlanta, create 200 jobs

Pizza delivery giant is still exploring locations in Atlanta area

Pizza delivery company Papa John’s plans to move its global headquarters to Atlanta from Kentucky next year, adding 200 jobs as it expands and rides a huge surge in business, thanks to the coronavirus.

Papa John’s International will relocate development, human resources, menu innovation and other departments to the Atlanta area from its hometown of Louisville. The company’s IT and logistics departments will remain there.

Company president and CEO Rob Lynch told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution the COVID-19 pandemic has helped Papa John’s have the best year in its history. As people work and attend school from home, sales have soared.

That makes it a good time for Papa John’s to expand and adopt a new headquarters in a location with a deeper talent pool and more options for executives to travel, he said.

Credit: courtesy of Papa John's

Credit: courtesy of Papa John's

“We think that Atlanta can help us get the talent we need,” said Lynch, who was named Papa John’s CEO a year ago.

He was previously the president of Arby’s, which is headquartered here. Lynch has remained in Atlanta.

The Atlanta area has a large supply of restaurant and beverage industry talent, as Chick-fil-A, The Coca-Cola Company and the private-equity firm Roark Capital, which owns Jimmy John’s and Sonic through Inspire Brands, are based here.

Papa John’s plans to complete its move by summer of 2021. It hasn’t selected a location but has looked at space in Midtown and in the Battery and Galleria areas of Cobb County. Papa John’s will likely invest about $10 million in the move and its headquarters build-out, Lynch said.

Papa John’s operates about 170 locations in Georgia, including 80 in metro Atlanta. It also owns and operates nine locations in Georgia in partnership with former Los Angeles Lakers basketball star Shaquille O’Neal, who serves on the company’s board.

Papa John’s largest and newest U.S. distribution facility is in Acworth. It supplies pizza dough, sauce, paper products and other supplies to regional stores.

The company employs about 2,000 people in metro Atlanta, including restaurant employees.

Papa John’s reported global second-quarter sales of $461 million, a 15% increase from the same period a year ago. About 70% of orders are placed through a laptop or smartphone, a figure that’s expected to grow.

John Schnatter founded Papa John’s in 1984 in Jeffersonville, Indiana. Schnatter resigned as chairman and CEO in 2018 after he was reported to have made racist remarks during a corporate conference call and for criticizing the NFL for how it handled players' national anthem protests.