Papa John's founder and CEO steps down

Papa John's founder and CEO steps down

Schnatter was criticized in recent weeks after he blamed the National Football League and players who protested social inequality during the national anthem for the company's lagging sales figures.

The company's stock price has dropped 13 percent since Schantter's comment, per the AP. However, Schnatter will still be chairman of the board and is still the biggest shareholder.

The company gave no reason for the change, but it comes after the public relations disaster when Schnatter shared his thoughts about players who took a knee during the national anthem to protest the treatment of black Americans, particularly by police.

"Will NEVER buy papa Johns again!"

Schnatter, 56, founded Papa John's more than 30 years ago, turning a broom closet at his father's bar into a pizza spot.

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Schnatter has stepped down as CEO before in 2005 after a period of declining sales at the company, then returned three years later. Schnatter's decision to relinquish the role may come as a surprise to those who recognize him as "Papa John" in the chain's promotions.

Both those comments wound up hurting the company even more.

As for Schnatter, a Jeffersonville-native, he will stay on as Chairman of the company's board of directors. The company said later Thursday that it had "no plans to remove John from our communications", which it says includes pizza boxes or commercials. McDonald's Corp., for example, expects to increase delivery from 5,000 of its almost 14,000 USA locations by the end of the year. Steve Ritchie will take over as chief executive.

John Schnatter, founder of Papa John's pizza restaurants, in pool w. his trainer, doing stretches during workout at home.

Ritchie said he will focus on making it easier to order Papa John's from anywhere, including form tweets, text messages, and voice-activated devices. Ritchie worked as a delivery driver and store manager before becoming operating chief in 2014 and president in 2015. He eventually became a franchise owner in 2006 and owns nine locations. Ritchie said plans for him to succeed Schnatter were made after that.

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