- Kate Taylor
Papa John’s is finally serving a kind of pizza that customers have been demanding for years.
Last week, the pizza chain debuted a pan pizza – something the company is calling its biggest launch in more than a decade.
“We used to get questions all the time, from consumers to operators to franchisees … ‘Why don’t you have pan?'” Sean Muldoon, Papa John’s chief ingredient officer, told Business Insider. “With our launch, we think we’re going to bring in new consumers who are heavy pan lovers.”
Muldoon says that it took Papa John’s a year and a half to develop a pan pizza that fit the “cheesy, buttery, crispy” taste profile it wanted to achieve. Some locations needed to install new technology to allow for a pan pizza’s adjusted preparation methods.
“One of the reasons we haven’t had pan in the past is pan crust is thicker and hardier,” Muldoon said. “It takes longer to bake.”
According to Muldoon, pan pizza is the chain’s biggest launch since he joined the company in 1999. With the launch, Papa John’s hopes to draw in new customers who exclusively eat pan pizza, which is currently on the menu at chains such as Domino’s and Little Caesars.
- Kate Taylor
“Our competitors have been doing pan for years and years and years,” Muldoon said. He said “some people cross over” and order different types of pizza, “but there is that niche.”
Papa John’s says the new type of pie has brought in a significant number of new customers, who Muldoon says had been primarily ordering at competitors.
Papa John’s is hoping to distinguish its pan pizza from the competition by highlighting quality, with the company’s move toward a “clean” menu with fewer artificial ingredients. By launching pan pizza in October, Papa John’s has a major marketing opportunity, thanks to the chain’s extensive NFL partnerships.
Ultimately, however, the success of Papa John’s pan pizza depends on winning over pan pizza loyalists looking for something that, until now, they couldn’t find at the chain.
The perfect pan pizza requires a seared edge, which Papa John’s calls the “cheese ring,” and a thick, fluffy center. It’s a flavor that is distinct from Papa John’s traditional hand-tossed pizza crust, and one that has the potential to make up a significant portion of sales down the road.
Pan pizza is already accounting for a double-digit percentage of sales in test markets – a similar proportion to thin-crust pizza. Soon, Papa John’s hopes that the new style of pizza will make up more than 10% of sales at locations across the US.