LOUISVILLE, Ky. Papa John’s International Inc. has appointed president and chief operating officer Jude Thompson as co-chief executive to serve alongside the brand’s founder and spokesman, John Schnatter, the company said Thursday.
Thompson and Schnatter now join the ranks of restaurant industry co-CEOs with Steve Ells and Monty Moran at Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., Larry Flax and Rick Rosenfield of California Pizza Kitchen Inc., and Rick Federico and Bert Vivian of P.F. Chang’s China Bistro Inc..
Schnatter founded Papa John’s in 1984 and serves as chairman and chief executive, the latter a role he returned to in 2008  after Nigel Travis stepped down to become CEO at Dunkin' Brands Inc.
“I am delighted that Jude and I will continue our work together, now as co-chief executive officers,” Schnatter said. “This appointment recognizes the partnership we have developed since I rejoined the day-to-day management of the company in December 2008 and allows us to divide CEO-level responsibilities in a way that our board agrees plays to our respective strengths.”
Under the new arrangement, Schnatter will oversee the brand’s sourcing of ingredients, distribution and product quality and continue to serve as Papa John’s spokesman. Thompson will be responsible for all other day-to-day operational aspects of the company.
“John is the face of this brand and is passionate about delivering a superior-quality product to our customers,” Thompson said. “I am excited about continuing to work alongside John, as well as with our franchise and corporate operators and management team, to continue to move our brand forward.”
Thompson joined the brand’s board of directors in 2008, and he was named president and chief operating officer in April 2009. He previously had served in an executive capacity for WellPoint Inc. and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
Louisville-based Papa John’s operates or franchises more than 2,780 pizza restaurants in the United States.
Contact Mark Brandau at [email protected] .