CHICAGO—A franchisee of 30 Papa John's has withdrawn his stores from the 2,900-plus-unit system and renamed them Papa Tony's.
According to the Chicago Daily Herald, the break between Papa John's and franchisee Antoin "Tony" Rezko will reduce Papa John's Chicago presence to just six stores. Rezko had 23 Papa John's in the Chicago area and seven in Detroit.
"The relationship just was not working," said Gene Murphy, an attorney representing Papa Tony's. The divorce, he added, followed a dispute over the pricing of ingredients and the licensing of nearby rival Papa John's units.
The report said Louisville, Ky.-based Papa John's terminated Rezko's franchise license in early May. Papa John's spokesperson Karen Sherman declined to comment on reasons for the termination or on a pending lawsuit against Rezko's company. Such terminations are rare, Sherman said, adding that in her seven years with the chain, only three franchisees' contracts have been terminated.
Papa Tony's is already sourcing products from new suppliers, developing new marketing plans and covering former Papa John's signs with vinyl tarps bearing the business' new name.
Sherman said Papa John's plans to add stores back to the Chicago area.