KEY POINTS
  • Papa John's founder John Schnatter says he believes that the pizza chain has changed its recipe.
  • Schnatter was ousted as chairman from the company more than a year ago.
  • He also says new CEO Rob Lynch does not have a passion for quality or people.

Papa John's founder and ousted chairman thinks the pizza chain has changed its recipe.

"I've had over 40 pizzas in the last 30 days, and it's not the same pizza, it's not the same product," John Schnatter said in an interview with Fox affiliate WDRB in Louisville, Kentucky.

After Schnatter built the company on "better ingredients, better pizza," Papa John's ousted him as chairman in July 2018, leading him to file several lawsuits against the company. He dismissed his claims as part of a settlement with Papa John's and has been selling off his stake in the chain.

Schnatter's resignation had followed his use of a racially charged word on a conference call in May 2018.

In the interview, Schnatter said former CEO Steve Ritchie, who resigned from Papa John's in August, and the board of directors used the incident to "steal the company."

The embattled pizza chain is trying to turn around its image and its business, helped by an investment by activist hedge fund Starboard Value in February. As part of the deal, Starboard CEO Jeff Smith became chairman of the pizza chain's board. The company appointed Rob Lynch, former president of Arby's, as CEO earlier this year.

"He doesn't really have a passion for quality, and probably most important — he doesn't have a passion for people," Schnatter said.

Shares of Papa John's were trading up less than 1% Tuesday afternoon. The stock, valued at $2 billion, is up 55% this year, adding roughly $460 million in market value.

Papa John's swung to a profit in its third quarter, reporting a net income of $385,000 and revenue of $403.7 million.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Social media users weighed in after an edited clip of the interview went viral. One called the interview "wild" and asked when it would be turned into a movie.

Another questioned Schnatter's physical appearance, asking why he looked "wet."

Closing out the interview, Schnatter said to stay tuned.

"The day of reckoning will come," he said.