Papa John’s finally does a good thing

Papa John’s new Garlic-Parmesan crust
Photo: Papa John’s

It’s been more than a year since Papa John’s founder and former chairman John Schnatter uttered a racial slur on a conference call, then resigned over it, then tried to claw his way back from it. Papa John’s itself has seemed unable to fully recover, even with Schnatter in the rearview. It put itself up for sale, brought Shaq on board, and unveiled a calzone that no one cared about. But finally, Papa John’s may have set itself back on the right course by doing the one thing Papa John’s does best: garlic-Parmesan goo.

Papa John’s corporate looked deep within itself, turned to a mirror, and asked: “What is Papa John’s?” The answer, of course, is garlic dipping sauce. It’s the one thing that even PJ’s critics have to concede: “Yeah, I guess that garlic sauce is pretty good.” And so Papa John’s is rightly doubling down on that success, turning the garlic-Parmesan flavor into a crust option by baking Garlic Sauce and Parmesan cheese into the crust. Unlike its competitors, Papa John’s hasn’t previously offer any flavored crusts, only original, thin, and gluten-free. The new Garlic-Parmesan Crust pizzas will still come with garlic dipping sauce and pepperoncini in the box.

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This is encouraging news from Papa John’s, and a good example of how sometimes the simplest innovation is really all people want. You make a cult-favorite sauce? Turn it into a flavored crust. Not rocket science, but definitely a new option that might get me to order Papa John’s for the first time in a while. Just… don’t screw this one up, PJ’s.

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Kate Bernot

Kate Bernot is managing editor at The Takeout and a certified beer judge.