As soon as I was old enough to get a job, I started working. I got my first job in high school at a pizza joint called Rocky's in my hometown of Jeffersonville, Indiana. I started as a dishwasher and worked my way up to making pizzas. That's when I first saw my determination pay off. But I also noticed something else; I noticed there was something local pizza joints could provide that seemed to be missing from national pizza chains – a quality pizza delivered with excellent service right to the customer's door. It was then that I realized my dream was to open my own pizza restaurant.
After I finished high school, I went to college at Ball State University and worked at another pizzeria called Greeks. I learned a lot about the pizza business, and my job served to solidify my desire to open my own pizza joint. Once I graduated with my business degree, I returned to Jeffersonville, where I learned my father's business, Mick's Lounge, was struggling. To save my dad's tavern, I sold my prized 1972 Camaro Z28. Once we turned around the struggling business, I decided now was the time to pursue my lifelong dream, and Mick's Lounge was just the place to do it.
So, I knocked down the broom closet in Mick's Lounge, bought $1600 in used restaurant equipment, installed an oven in the tiny space and started selling pizzas out of the back of the restaurant. And that's when Papa John's was born! I put my heart and soul, and everything I had learned from my father and grandfather, into my pizza business, and it paid off. In 1984, I opened my first Papa John's restaurant, and the rest is history!"