The International Franchise Association (IFA) today named Joe Johnson, owner of Disrupt Foods, which operates 15 Papa Johns restaurants and plans to open another 15 locations, as a 2023 Franchisee of the Year. Joe was honored at the 63rd IFA Annual Convention in Las Vegas for being an outstanding franchise establishment owner-operator.
Those of us at Papa Johns who have worked with Joe will tell you that describing him as “outstanding” is an understatement. Joe not only operates a growing line of Papa Johns restaurants, he is improving the Papa Johns experience for other franchise owners and customers alike, driving Papa Johns commitment to support the communities it serves and working to diversify the ownership base of franchise brands across the country.
In 2016, Joe teamed up with New Orleans Saints player Malcolm Jenkins to cofound Disrupt Foods. Since partnering with Papa Johns, Joe has brought his background in technology and 13 years of retail experience to build a better Papa Johns by embracing the new technologies critical to growing a business in today’s world. Joe strongly advocated for Papa Johns to lead the pizza industry in becoming an early adopter of Delivery as a Service (DAAS) by partnering with aggregators like Door Dash and Uber Eats. Embracing this new model made possible by technology the way that Joe did in his restaurants would soon turn out to have been a critical move. In 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, demand for pizza exploded, and Papa Johns restaurant owners found themselves managing record volumes of orders at a time when their available workforce was fluctuating day to day as the virus spread. The use of aggregators helped franchise partners meet this unprecedented demand and take a significant workload off of their restaurants’ teams.
Today, Joe continues to help Papa Johns and its franchisees use technology to listen to customers, determine their needs and meet them where they are. Joe serves on Papa Johns Franchise Advisory Council and works closely with Papa Johns technology team on updates to the Papa Johns website, app, and other platforms to simplify the customer journey and make it easier for them to engage with the brand.
But, Joe is not content with simply growing his business – he is helping others realize the value of becoming a franchise partner with Papa Johns and other large brands alike. In 2021, Disrupt Foods created Athlete Franchise Partners, a platform designed to offer franchising opportunities to professional athletes. The platform not only allows brands to tap into the potential of athletes-turned-entrepreneurs but is also creating opportunities for communities under-represented among franchise owners. While one-third of the U.S. population is Black or Hispanic, these two groups represent only 18% of franchise owners. Through Athlete Franchise Partners, Joe is helping the overall franchise ownership base become more representative of the people they serve.
Finally – Joe has lead the charge in supporting franchise owners who give back to their communities. In 2019, Joe helped found the Papa Johns Foundation for Building Community, which has raised more than $6.6 million to support organizations working to provide hunger relief, reduce food waste and build the leaders of tomorrow, including $2.5 million in grants through the Foundation’s Building Community Fund. This fund empowers Papa Johns franchise partners to support their local communities through applying to the Foundation for these grants on behalf of local organizations addressing critical needs within their respective communities.
This August, Papa Johns and The Papa John’s Foundation for Building Community announced a goal to donate 10 million meals to those in need over the next five years. The new commitment will blend food donations, grants to hunger relief organizations and team member volunteer efforts that deepen the impact of long-standing work by Papa Johns, its franchise partners, and the Foundation.