The past week's photos of Papa John's International CEO John Schnatter made some Eater readers quite irritable. Your Editor was accused of being repetitive, annoying, and even taking payments from Papa John's "to promote his filth." (To these charges we plead "guilty," "possibly" and "absolutely innocent.") What we were doing, in preparation for Pizza Week, was to recognize that when it comes to Louisville pizza, Papa John's is in a class by itself. Sure, Pizza Hut is part of Yum! Brands, but their corporate headquarters is still in Plano, Texas and their original store was in Wichita, Kansas.
Schnatter was born in Jeffersonville, Indiana and graduated from Jeffersonville High School. In the 1980s he sold his 1972 Camaro Z28 to purchase used pizza equipment, and turned a broom closet in the rear of a tavern into a pizza store. Now he is CEO and primary personality for one of the largest take-out-and-delivery chains, with over 4000 Papa John's stores across the globe. From the castle overlooking his Anchorage fiefdom to the football stadium bearing his company name, "Papa John" Schnatter has a big presence in this town, and can make a pretty strong claim to be the face of Louisville pizza. Eater's week-long celebration of all things pizza, exploring the city's wide offerings of excellent pie, will not pay much attention to corporate chains. But as one commenter put it, "in fairness, there is zero argument that Papa John's isn't Louisville's most iconic pizza." Eater un-compensated-ly acknowledges you, Mr. Schatter. And with that, we move on to Eater Pizza Week 2014, where we hope Eater readers will enjoy our (mostly) Schnatter-less sketches of the city's iconic, underrated, and overrated pizzas along with other pizza-centric posts.