Papa Johns CEO says pizza recipe hasnt changed despite founders claims – CNBC

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Rob Lynch, CEO of Papa John’s Pizza.

Anjali Sundaram | CNBC

Papa John’s CEO Rob Lynch said Tuesday that the pizza chain has not changed its recipe, despite claims from its founder that it tastes different. 

“We haven’t made any changes to the way we make it or what goes into our products,” Lynch said on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.”

Last week, founder John Schnatter said that he thinks the chain’s pizza tastes different.

“I’ve had over 40 pizzas in the last 30 days, and it’s not the same pizza, it’s not the same product,” Schnatter said in an interview with Fox affiliate WDRB in Louisville, Kentucky.

Schnatter was ousted as chairman of the company in July 2018. In the WDRB interview, he accused the company’s former CEO Steve Ritchie and other board members of stealing the company he founded. Schnatter also said to stay tuned because “the day of reckoning will come.” Social media users skewered Schnatter’s interview and his appearance after an edited clip went viral.

But Lynch, who previously led Arby’s, said that Papa John’s focus is not on Schnatter. 

“We don’t really focus on that. Mr. Schnatter is entitled to his opinion. We’re focused on doing the things that are going to move the business forward,” he said.

While Papa John’s says that it has not changed its recipe, it has been making some tweaks to its menu. The pizza chain introduced its first new pizza crust flavor in 35 years — Garlic Parmesan Crust — in early November. The menu addition is just one step in the pizza chain’s plan to turn around its business, helped by an investment by activist hedge fund Starboard Value in February.

Papa John’s stock, valued at $1.9 billion, has risen 51% so far this year. Shares of Domino’s Pizza, which has a market value of $11.8 billion, are up 16% over the same time period. 

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