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Papa Johns to sell its Jeffersontown office, then lease parts of it back

The entrance of a Louisville Papa John's store, with columns and the red-and-green logo above the door. The sky is cloudy.
Jacob Munoz
Papa Johns said Wednesday it was putting its east Louisville campus up for sale.

One of Louisville’s most recognizable chains is scaling back its local corporate presence. It’s the latest change to the former headquarters of one of the city’s major employers.

Papa Johns plans to put its Jeffersontown campus — at 2002 Papa Johns Blvd. — on the market next week. It features a three-story building constructed in 1999 spanning more than 250,000 square feet, according to the Jefferson County Property Valuation Administrator.

Harrison Sheffield, the company's senior communications manager, said in an email Wednesday that Papa Johns no longer needs the whole space for its current workforce. He added the company aims to lease back part of the property after it's sold.

“Since returning to in-office work last year, we’ve determined that the current Papa Johns campus no longer fits the needs of our Louisville workforce. While we are putting the campus up for sale, we remain committed to the Louisville Metro area and will maintain a corporate hub here,” Sheffield wrote.

The company’s IT, legal, supply chain and finance shared services teams and their executives will remain based in the area, he said.

Sarah Davasher-Wisdom is the president and CEO of Greater Louisville Inc., the city’s chamber of commerce. Asked Thursday about Papa Johns’ decision, she said the chamber was glad the company was maintaining a local presence.

“We are happy Papa Johns is retaining its strong Louisville workforce and as a brand born in Greater Louisville, we appreciate their continued commitment to our community, whether they remain at their current campus or move to a new location in Louisville Metro,” Davasher-Wisdom said in an emailed statement.

Papa Johns announced in 2020 it was adding headquarters to Atlanta, where CEO Robert Lynch is based, while retaining employees in Louisville.

Ex-CEO John Schnatter founded the pizza chain in Jeffersonville, Indiana, in 1984. He said the company had “abandoned” Louisville

“Far too many companies forget their roots and lose their identity in the process. This is clearly the case for Papa Johns. Nonetheless, my heart felt appreciation goes out to the entire Louisville community for the legacy we built together,” Schnatter said in an emailed statement Thursday.

He resigned as CEO at the start of 2018 following controversy over his comments on national anthem protests in the NFL.

Schnatter then stepped down as chair of the company’s board of directors, and eventually resigned from its board altogether, after he used the N-word during a conference call, which he later apologized for.

Sheffield said the size of Papa Johns Louisville corporate team had not changed based on the announcement. He did not provide the number of local employees at that site Wednesday. The company had about 750 non-restaurant employees in Louisville in 2020, according to WDRB.

Jacob is LPM's Business and Development Reporter. Email Jacob at jmunoz@lpm.org.

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