Papa John's Future Fueled By A 1971 Z28 Camaro
As a 15-year-old high school student working as a dishwasher at Rocky's Sub Pub in Jeffersonville, Indiana, Papa John's founder John Schnatter bought his first car: a 1971 Z28 Camaro.
Little did John know that this car would one day fuel his future.
At Rocky's, John continued dish-washing, until one busy Friday night, he was asked to help make pizzas.
As he became more well-versed in the pizza-making business, John realized that there was something missing from national pizza chains: a superior-quality traditional pizza delivered to the customer's door. His dream was to one day open a pizza restaurant that would fill that void.
In 1984, "Papa" John Schnatter knocked out a broom closet located in the back of his father's tavern (Mick's Lounge) and purchased $1,600 worth of used restaurant equipment with the money he made from selling his prized Camaro. By selling his car, John was able to save his father's business from bankruptcy, all the while sharing his talent for making pizza with his father's customers.
They loved the pizza so much that he was able to expand by moving into adjoining space, eventually leading to the opening of the first Papa John's restaurant in 1985. In 2009, John bought back his Camaro for $275,000. To him the Camaro was priceless because it reminded him of his dad, Robert L. Schnatter and his papaw, Louis Ackerson.
Today, Papa John's boasts over 5,000 restaurants in 50 states and 45 countries and territories. Papa John's also owns or franchises 100+ Perfect Pizza restaurants in the United Kingdom.