The embattled founder of Papa John’s pizza still believes he alone can save the ailing chain — though it’s his behavior that has resulted in the company’s diminishing sales and troubled reputation. This week, John Schnatter — who is banned from his company following the use of inappropriate language and allegations of sexual misconduct — launched a website called SavePapaJohns.com.
On it, he writes that as the company’s largest shareholder he knows what’s best for Papa John’s, and encourages all of the company’s workers and franchisees to support him — because the Papa John’s board is trying to “silence” him.
Papa John’s employs around 120,000 workers worldwide, according to Bloomberg. The site contains copies of legal documents, links to related press coverage, and a personal note from Schnatter to Papa John’s employees that reads, in part:
...I miss you all very much. More than words can express! Papa John’s is our life’s work and we will all get through this together somehow, some way. I can only imagine how difficult this entire situation is on you, and I’m very sorry you all have to go through this. Know that in every minute of every day you are all in my thoughts and prayers.
Schnatter stepped down as CEO of his company last December, less than two months after blaming protesting NFL players for Papa John’s faltering sales. Then, last month, he resigned as chairman of Papa John’s board after a racist rant from a phone call with a PR agency leaked to the press. The founder of the 34-year-old chain admitted to using derogatory language, but believes the comments were taken out of context. Less than a week later, allegations surfaced that Schnatter promoted a “bro-culture” within his company and that he himself had engaged in sexual misconduct. Schnatter denied all accusations, and accused the board of mishandling the issue.
Meanwhile, Papa John’s sales continue to slide. The chain reported a loss in July and told shareholders it was offering its franchisees financial assistance during this ongoing controversy to prevent stores from closing as a result of weak sales. If only Schnatter realized that the best thing he could do for his restaurant chain, at least right now, is GTFO.
Update, August 22: Papa John’s released a statement in response to the Schnatter stunt, noting that “all of our stakeholders want to save Papa John’s from John.” The statement, in full:
“We are not, nor should we be, dependent on one person. Papa John’s is 120,000 corporate and franchisee team members around the world. Stakeholders, including customers, franchisees, employees, and investors, have expressed strong support for the actions we have taken to separate our brand from Mr. Schnatter. No matter what John does, he will not be able to distract from the inappropriate comments he made. We appreciate this support and are confident we are taking the right steps to move the company forward.”