This is reporting on a rumor, though many summer students at the University of Minnesota might be able to confirm that something has indeed happened. So what exactly happened to Papa John's Pizza? The chain pizza branch in the dining halls of Coffman Memorial Union and St. Paul Student Center has been stripped away, leaving almost no evidence that they were ever there. And the familiar faces that worked in the Papa John's station since have moved over to the neighboring food stands, like Subway. Of course, there could be a number of reasons why Papa John's Pizza has left campus; perhaps they're updating their logo or simply revamping their pizza procedures. The point is, I don't know why they're gone! But, I have a pretty good guess.
During the NFL National Anthem debate in September, Papa John's founder John Schnatter, blamed the NFL for Papa John's drop in sales. According to an ESPN article, John Schnatter and Steve Ritchie, Papa John's President and Chief Operating Officer, believed that NFL's clumsy management of the protests, coupled with pulled ad spots, are the reasons why Papa John's is not meeting their projected sales, though it was not disclosed exactly how much in projected sales was lost. As one might expect, this little debacle was not good face for Schnatter or Papa John's. That is why Schnatter stepped down as CEO in December, and why Papa John's hired Laundry Services, a Public Relations company, to help take measures to prevent a future faux pas.
However, a future faux pas was not averted, when, in May of this year, Schnatter used the n-word while in a conference call with Laundry Services. According to Forbes, the conference call was a role-playing exercise aimed at preventing future "public-relation snafus." The exercise backfired when Schnatter was asked how he would distance himself from online racist groups; in trying to downplay NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem, he commented on how Colonel Sanders said the n word without any backlash--a claim that is unsubstantiated.
According to Forbes, Schnatter also recollected his childhood in Indiana, where black men were once dragged behind pick-up trucks until they died. Schnatter intended this recollection to show his disgust toward violence-induced by racism, though, to many, that is not how the comments appeared. These comments led Schnatter to step down as Chairman. And, ironically, it also led Laundry Services to formally leave their contract with the pizza company.
According to Forbes, following the conference call, company shares have dropped by 25%, while Shnatter's net worth dropped a whopping $70 million. Laundry Services, possibly because of it's revocation of the Papa John's contract, laid off 10% of its employees. Take it for what it's worth, but all of this could also be the same reason why we are not seeing Papa John's in our beloved U of M dining services.
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