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” in terms of quality as when he left.
Under a spotlight, a visibly sweating Schnatter launched into a tirade against Papa John’s executives, accusing them of setting him up. “The day of reckoning will come,” said Schnatter, dressed in a customary red button-down. “The record will be straight,” he said, cryptically suggesting multiple times that viewers “stay tuned” for more.
The interview caught on with Twitter users, who jumped on Schnatter’s proclaimed pizza-heavy diet and weighed in on the careworn appearance of the executive, who was ousted last year and remains a shareholder in Papa John’s.
A spokeswoman for Papa John’s didn’t reply to a request for comment. The company’s shares were little changed in Tuesday trading.
Former Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter Visits “Mornings With Maria”
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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.
A new chief executive officer, former Arby’s executive Rob Lynch, has made management changes since taking over in August and this month reported better-than-expected quarterly sales. The shares have gained about 28% since his arrival.
In the interview, Schnatter said he isn’t satisfied, given that 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. He provided no explanation why he made such an assertion.
A spokesman for Schnatter didn’t reply to a request for comment. Shapiro declined to comment, while Kirtley couldn’t be reached for comment.
I hope Papa John is okay. That’s a lot of pizza.
The Papa John interview is lovely
The Papa John interview is lovely pic.twitter.com/bpDMDm9t9G
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) November 26, 2019
Sent via Twitter for iPhone.
View original tweet.
Once the largest shareholder, Schnatter still owns at least a 9% stake, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. He says he isn’t trying to take it over at this time.
“My metaphor is there’s no reason to be in the car when the car crashes, even if you love the car,” he said.
(Updates to add more interview details, Twitter response)
To contact the reporter on this story:
Cristin Flanagan in New York at [email protected]
To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Anne Riley Moffat at [email protected]