Papa John’s founder and former CEO John Schnatter vowed there would be a “day of reckoning” after leaving the company in response to reports he used a racial slur during a conference call.
The reckoning did not take place Sunday afternoon, when he decided to visit Kilroy’s on Kirkwood.
He was shaking hands, posing for selfies and handing out $10 Papa John’s gift cards to the few Kilroy’s customers present. He didn’t have anything to drink.
“I just wanted to check it out,” Schnatter said.
Schnatter, an Indiana native, stepped down as Papa John’s CEO in January 2018 after controversial comments on national anthem protests in the NFL and later resigned as chairman of the board after using a racial slur in a May 2018 conference call.
In the time since his departure from the company, he made national news in an interview where he said he “had over 40 pizzas in 30 days." But Schnatter said in a recent interview on a podcast he hadn’t actually eaten each entire pizza, instead inspecting the pie or only eating part of it.
Schnatter attended a basketball game at his alma mater Ball State University Saturday before traveling to Bloomington.
IU student Josh Bialosky, 21, was working at the door at Kilroy’s when Schnatter walked in.
“I didn’t card him when he came in because he seemed of age,” he said.
On the second glance, he saw it was Papa John. He went to tell his co-workers.
Kilroy’s employees and patrons were treated to $10 off their next Papa John’s order — online only — on Schnatter’s behalf as he handed out gift cards featuring a picture of him.
Dani Robbins, 21, took pictures with Schnatter and received one of the gift cards. She said she loves Papa John’s pizza, and actually ate one of their heart-shaped pizzas two nights ago on Valentine’s Day. After taking a picture with Schnatter, he urged her to post a picture of the Valentine’s pizza on Instagram and tag him in it.
“This honestly changed my life,” she said. “I’m just starstruck from meeting Mr. Papa.”