Papa John's International Inc. recently announced its Franchisees of the Year during its annual operators conference in Orlando, Fla.

The winners include:

  • Royal PJ Inc., Encino, Calif.: Hinkle Award (Domestic Small Group Franchisee of the Year, 1 to 3 restaurants): Ahmad Eslami;
  • Tar Heel Pizza Group LLC, Wilmington, N.C.: Domestic Medium Group Franchisee of the Year (4 to 10 restaurants): Rick Gordon and Dr. Chris Lawley;
  • Houston Pizza Ventures LLC, Houston: Domestic Large Group Franchisee of the Year (11 or more restaurants): Keith Sullins; and
  • PJ Western Retail Investments, Moscow, Russia: International Franchisee of the Year: Chris Wynne.

Each of the Franchisee of the Year winners was honored with a $20,000 cash award and a crystal Papa John's restaurant trophy. According to the company, the winners were selected for "exemplifying Papa John's commitment to serving a superior-quality pizza, world-class customer service and outstanding community involvement."

"These franchisees are excellent role models for the entire Papa John's system, and it is an honor to recognize their efforts," said John Schnatter, Papa John's founder, chairman and CEO.

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