PAPA JOHN’S OF ELK RIVER
Better Ingredients. Better Pizza.
Elk River is a pizza town, and Larry Waldman saw an opening for an option missing from the list.
He opened a Papa John’s this past December and has not regretted it for a second. He’s got a one-two punch that he believes is an unbeatable combination.
“I liked what I saw of the Papa John’s business model,” says Waldman, who has been in the food industry nearly 20 years.
Better Ingredients. Better Pizza. Superior Product.
You add that to Waldman’s entrepreneurial spirit and his understanding of top-shelf customer service and it’s no wonder pizzas have been flying out the door in the hands of walk-in customers and delivery drivers turning around orders submitted online and over the phone.
“The competition doesn’t scare me,” said Waldman, who’s committed to developing a business with his family in mind and cultivating an operation that’s ingrained in the community.
Waldman and his family live in Elk River. He and his wife have five children, including two who are adults.
“We want to give back,” said Waldman, who’s a salesman at heart and has been venturing all over town with coupons for specials to let fellow neighbors and community members know Papa John’s is here.
John Schnatter is the man behind Papa John’s. This brilliant entrepreneur got the idea as a high school student working at a local pizza pub in Jeffersonville, Ind.
He felt there was something missing from national pizza chains — a superior-quality traditional pizza delivered right to the customer’s door. His dream was to one day open a pizza restaurant that would fill that void.
In 1983, John picked up his business degree from Ball State University and went back to Jeffersonville.
There, at the age of 22, he knocked down the broom closet of his father’s tavern (Mick’s Lounge), purchased $1,600 worth of used restaurant equipment and began delivering pizzas out of the back of the bar.
From day one, John knew he could make a better pizza by using fresh dough and superior-quality ingredients, and he refused to sway from that commitment to quality.
It worked, and people loved his pizza. In 1984, John opened his first Papa John’s restaurant, and Papa John’s has been going strong ever since.
Today, Papa John’s now owns or franchises more than 4,000 restaurants in all 50 states and 29 countries.
“We have been waiting for a long time for this to come to Elk River,” Waldman said.
Papa John’s is still fully committed to delivering on its brand promise of “Better Ingredients. Better Pizza.”
A semi pulls up twice a week to deliver fresh ingredients. Nothing is frozen. “Quality is important and consistency is important, too.”
With the business model pinned down and all kinds of national advertising circulating around (i.e. the Super Bowl and other marketing efforts), Waldman gets to focus on customer service.
“That’s what it’s all about,” he said. “It’s not brain surgery. Customer service is Number 1.”
Having a superior product makes that easier.
“We have had a very positive response since opening at 594 Dodge Ave. N.W. in Elk River, in a remodeled space that once housed another pizza franchise that moved down to a different location.
Most people already know Papa John’s has opened in Elk River. The rest of the community is finding out.
Many are enjoying the ease of ordering pizzas online. The orders pop up on computer screens in the pizza delivery business instantaneously and there are many attractive promotional offers to access.
Papa John’s delivers to all of Elk River and most of Otsego. To order online, visit papajohns.com.
Orders can also be made over the phone and in person. Papa John’s can be reached at 763-241-1010.
Trained staff are on hand to take orders in person as well.
Carryout can be done up to 9:30 p.m. each day. Otherwise, the store is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
“We’re glad to be here, and we want to become an integral part of the community,” Waldman said.