Papa John's is ready to give pan pizza another try.
The third-largest U.S. pizza chain is rolling out a pan pizza nationally after about two years of tinkering with everything from the sauce and dough to the way it is prepared in its stores.
The Oct. 10 introduction comes more than a decade after Papa John's began selling a square-shaped pan pizza that was not a hit. The company describes the new version, which is round and comes in its own special black box, as its biggest new product in 10 years.
Chief Ingredient Officer Sean Muldoon said people ask him all the time why the chain does not have pan pizza. Larger competitors Pizza Hut and Domino's sell pan pizza along with other varieties.
"Pan does represent a fairly significant percentage of the overall pizza industry and so we just thought that was a great opportunity," Mr. Muldoon said.
Papa John's got its start in 1984 with hand-tossed pizza and added a thin crust variety in 1996. In Sept. 2005, Papa John's touted Papa's Perfect Pan pizza as "the largest and most significant new product roll-out in the company's history and the first new crust offered by the pizza brand in nearly ten years." That version, launched with a campaign featuring Dan Marino, did not catch on with consumers. About two years ago, Papa John's began seriously thinking about whether to try again.
"This is by far the largest new product launch that we've had in 10 years and by far it's been the most rigorous, deliberative new product development process that we've been through as a system," Mr. Muldoon said.