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Papa John's Has Reached a Truce With 'Papa John'

After a year of chaos, Papa John's has reached a truce with its founder and former CEO John Schnatter. An agreement was filed with the SEC this week stating Schnatter would step down from the board of the pizza chain bearing his name plus Papa...

Papa John's Founder Resigns
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After more than a year of chaos, Papa John's has reached a truce with its founder and former CEO John Schnatter. 

An agreement was filed with the SEC this week stating Schnatter would step down from the board of the pizza chain bearing his name plus "Papa." He'll do so by the company's annual meeting at the end of April as long as the company finds a mutually agreed upon independent director.

Papa John will additionally withdraw a lawsuit he filed against Papa John's. In return, the company will hand over documents Schnatter requested, allowing him the opportunity to take legal action if the documents reveal wrongdoing, per Yahoo Finance. Despite stepping down as CEO at the end of 2017, he has remained on the board and continues to be the company's largest shareholder, according to CNN

The former face of the company said in a statement, "[I am] thankful that I've been able to resolve these important issues, and that we can all focus on the company's business without the need for additional litigation."

The slow transition to a Papa John-less Papa John's started when he blamed the company's poor sales on NFL players kneeling to protest racial injustice. It was shortly afterward that he stepped down as CEO in December 2017. The following summer, he stepped down as chairman after he was heard using a racial slur on a company call, which additionally caused the company to lose many sponsorships. Around that time, his face was removed from Papa John's pizza boxes as well. 

Soon after, Schnatter stated it was a mistake to resign. The company attempted to balance the internal battle by presenting more diversity in its marketing materials and conducting bias training for staff. However, the company hasn't managed to bounce back. Sales sank in 2018 and the slump has continued into the new year. Maybe it's time to go full-Chipotle on the problem. 

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Dustin Nelson is a Senior Writer on the news team at Thrillist. Follow him @dlukenelson.