GARNER, N.C. -- Papa John's International is in the hunt for a 70,000-square-foot-plus facility in Wake County, N.C. to replace its current commissary in Garner.

According to a report in The Business Journal, the company has looked for property as it has opened more stores in the Carolinas and southern Virginia.

"We look at real estate from time to time to see what options are out there, but we're not in a position to talk about anything," says Karen Sherman, spokeswoman for Papa John's International, which is based in Louisville, Ky.

The company's PJ Food Service Division employs about 70 people at a 32,000-square-foot warehouse in an old Winn-Dixie grocery store.

The Garner commissary was one of the first of the company's 11 such centers built outside of Kentucky in the 1990s. It supplies food products for 230 Papa John's outlets in North Carolina, South Carolina and southern Virginia. Deliveries from the commissary are made twice a week to each restaurant.

Domino's Pizza also operates a commissary in Garner and employs about the same number of people.

Papa John's may build a new facility in the Garner area. Either way, local real estate sources say the pizza chain would have to spend about $8 million.

"They are way overdue for space," says Brenda Compton, a broker with Hartwell Realty in Garner who assisted the company in its search for its current facility.

Papa John's, though, may have to do with less until the economy improves. The company reported flat net income for the third quarter. It also warned that slow revenue growth and higher labor costs likely will lead to a small number of job cuts, including within the company's commissaries.

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