Workers Reveal What It's Really Like To Work At Papa John's

Ah, Papa John's. When you don't have the time or motivation to cook dinner, pizza delivery chains come to the rescue, and Papa John's is known as one of the best. With a robust menu filled with cheesy tomato- and meat-topped pizzas, Papa John's has made, sold, and delivered its pizzas since 1984 (via Papa John's). Even if you prefer another pizza delivery restaurant, like Domino's or Pizza Hut, few can say they haven't heard of or tried the pizzas from Papa John's.

But what's a restaurant without the people who make things run? From the delivery drivers to the managers and pizza chefs, every employee at Papa John's is responsible for making sure your pizzas are crafted to perfection and delivered to you in a reasonable amount of time. It might not seem like it, but there's a lot that happens behind the scenes, and the people who work there have a lot to say about the company. Here are some things that Papa John's workers have revealed about their jobs, so the next time you stop by one of the pizza stores, you'll have a better idea of what the employees may be thinking about.

Pepperoni-stuffed crust ruins their day

A delicious pizza is good on its own, but when it's made with stuffed crust, it gets all the more cheesy and appetizing. Featured on the Papa John's menu is the Epic Pepperoni-Stuffed Crust Pizza, which is made of the company's fresh dough and hand-stuffed with pepperoni and cheese before it's all baked (via Papa John's). It sounds heavenly to pepperoni lovers — but not to Papa John's employees. Believe it or not, a good number of workers consider the Pepperoni-Stuffed Crust pizza to be both the ultimate hassle and a killer of efficiency.

No matter what location they work at, Papa John's employees seem to be in agreement that the stuffed pepperoni crusts are a pain. Note that the pizzas are described as "hand-stuffed." When asked about whether or not this description was true, employees confirmed the claim. They went on to state that it takes a while to actually make the crust, and when they're busy, that can cause a lot of chaos (via Reddit). One employee also noted on Reddit that even though his location was fully staffed and everything seemed to be running smoothly, the very existence of the stuffed crust in question was holding them back. So even though you may love your stuffed crust pizzas, the people making your pizza might not feel the same.

Tips make or break the drivers

It can be a struggle to make a living off minimum wage alone, especially in the restaurant and delivery industry. Many workers have to rely on tips for decent pay, and that includes Papa John's drivers. They come all the way from the restaurant to your house and try to make sure you get your pizzas intact and on time. According to Popular Asks, experienced Papa John's delivery drivers make between $10.00 to $15.00 per hour, and that includes tips. With that in mind, it becomes pretty apparent that tips are absolutely crucial to delivery drivers.

Failing to tip is all too common, and Papa John's drivers remember the best and worst customers. On a Reddit Q&A, when a user asked about non-tip-related pet peeves in regard to customers, former drivers and employees of the pizza chain couldn't help but express their feelings toward those who wouldn't tip. One employee wrote that they had a Tesla owner place a $30 order and only tip them a dollar, while a $70 order only brought them a $2 tip. Comments sympathizing with the driver agreed that the tips definitely should have been higher — so the next time you order a pizza from this chain, be mindful of how much you tip.

Uber Eats and DoorDash drivers can be can be hard to work with

Many Papa John's locations have begun to work with Grubhub, DoorDash, and other delivery companies. This has led to a lot of in-person pickup orders for Papa John's employees to prepare and give to the pickup drivers, who aren't as enjoyable to deal with as one might think.

Some Papa John's workers have found that Uber Eats and DoorDash drivers have clogged up their stores, standing around and waiting for orders to be picked up. One Papa John's employee showed that after they had closed in-store, they still had a lot of Uber and DoorDash pickups they had to complete on their own, making for a seemingly stressful work night. Another employee for the pizza chain wrote on Reddit that the drivers sometimes came in just as the order had been placed and would then seem aggravated that they have to wait around for the order. This would also clog up Papa John's lines, making the other customers have to wait to place their orders and causing them to be upset as well.

A commenter who worked for the delivery companies noted that the apps don't tell drivers when the orders are placed, but instead tell them to immediately go to the restaurant. It doesn't seem like either employee is entirely at fault for this issue, but that doesn't mean Papa John's employees have to like it.

Respect for Papa John's employees isn't mandatory

Respect is something that can take you far in life, and it's important to treat hardworking people with the same amount of respect that you want to be shown — and that includes Papa John's employees and coworkers. Unfortunately, however, respect doesn't seem to be mandatory for many at Papa John's, and many former and current employees have felt that. One driver on Reddit noted that they had been in the pizza delivery industry for eight years, but after they asked for a raise, their boss told them that a monkey could do their job. Suffice to say, that employee didn't go back to work for Papa John's.

Another employee who had been with the pizza chain for 13 years said he was fired for closing three hours early (via Insider). Due to hiring and retention challenges, he closed the restaurant at 5 p.m. and was fired the next day. If that doesn't scream disrespect, there's more: John Schnatter, the former CEO of Papa John's, allegedly spied on employees and engaged in sexually inappropriate conduct, according to Forbes. No matter how much you progress in the chain of succession within the Papa John's workplace, it seems as though for many, respect isn't included in the package.

There are differences between corporate and franchise work environments

When you walk into a Papa John's — or, more likely, order a pizza from them online — you don't really know if the location you got your pizza from is corporate or franchised ... and you likely haven't thought too much about it. According to Small Business Trends, a franchise is a business in which a franchisee pays a fee to own and operate a location under the parent company's business model, while a corporate location will be owned and operated by the corporation itself. The differences between corporate and franchise Papa John's locations are likely not discernable at first glance, but for the employees, one business model may seem preferable over the other.

There are some pretty surprising differences between corporate and franchise work environments. One Papa John's employee expressed on Reddit that the franchise location they worked for was much more relaxed with its rules and that the workers didn't even have to wear most of the uniform. However, other workers feel as though the franchise locations are very cheap; in one case, an employee claimed that the store owners would let them prepare food without a working oven vent, leading to toxic fumes (via Niche). Depending on the location, these differences might not be apparent to a customer, but for an employee, it can make a job all the better or worse.

The job likely won't take you far

When you get a promotion, that usually entails more work, more money, and more opportunities. If you're looking to grow and go far with your job, then you may not be considering a position as a pizza delivery driver, but everyone has to start somewhere. However, according to Payscale, even for a general manager at Papa John's — while the pros are listed as a fast-paced environment and a commitment to customer satisfaction — one of the more notable cons is a lack of opportunities to advance in the workplace. Even if you do stay with Papa John's for a while, your chances of moving up in the ranks aren't always guaranteed.

The vast majority of employees believe they will never get promoted, even if they're so good at their job that they're training their new boss. One assistant general manager for the company expressed on Reddit that they had been with the company long enough to know how to do everything in their store except place a food order. However, when the general manager left, instead of getting promoted, the AGM was asked to train someone else to become the general manager. Even though you likely won't make millions working at Papa John's, that kind of disregard for employees is disheartening for those who want to boost their earning power.

The Papa John's uniform shirts are terrible

Uniforms create a sense of reliability and, as the name suggests, uniformity within a company. You can walk into a Target, for example, and be sure that the employees will be wearing bright-red attire should you need assistance from them. For some companies, employees have to purchase the uniforms themselves, which isn't all that fun, but at least the clothes might be somewhat comfortable. However, for many Papa John's employees, they don't find the attire all that pleasant to wear.

Within a post on the Papa John's Subreddit, an employee noted that they found the shirts they were given at the start of their job terrible. No matter how hot or cold it was in the store, they always found themselves incredibly sweaty. They theorized that this was done intentionally so that new workers would spend extra money to buy the brand's overpriced T-shirts, putting more money in the pockets of Papa John's. If you have to deliver pizzas during colder weather or work in a hot pizza kitchen, we can see why employees would take their uniforms seriously.

Employees may have to protect customers from dangerous hazards

You don't always go into a Papa John's to get your pizza, but when you do, you don't expect to be placed in any danger. It should come as no surprise that employees are responsible for keeping customers satisfied and ensuring that they receive the right orders — but those employees may also have to protect customers from more than just the wrong kind of pizza. Some have called out massive safety hazards at their restaurants.

Many workers have found unsanitary things within restaurants. According to one Metro article, a Papa John's employee reportedly found birds, moldy food, and a dirty ceiling in their workplace. Furthermore, many employees have gotten fired from the pizza joint for prioritizing their and other individuals' health over the job. For example, one former Papa John's employee was fired because he refused to work without running water (via Daily Dot). The location stated that the employee walked off the job, but the worker and his sister pushed back, claiming this was false. Either way, it's not fun to know that this stuff could be going on at Papa John's locations and that employees have to deal with it.

Free pizza is the perk

When you step into a Papa John's, you're surrounded by the enticing aroma of freshly baked pizzas. Imagine what it's like for the people who work in the stores for longer periods of time. Fortunately for the employees, not only do they get to be surrounded by delicious pizzas, but they often get to enjoy free food. The job might lack many benefits, but nobody can argue that free food — especially good free food — is a plus.

Numerous employees of the pizza chain have revealed that while on the job, they've been able to get pizza and other food free of charge. One reviewer on Indeed noted that they were able to have free pizza for lunch during their shift — and while might not be the healthiest of lunches, it would definitely be nice to have a meal consisting of cheese, tomatoes, and light, fluffy crust. Another employee on Glassdoor claimed that the crew was allowed to make themselves snacks on the job, which didn't cost them a dime. They also wrote that their upper management would sometimes cater food in from other restaurants, which makes working at Papa John's sound a little better than before.

Regular breaks don't exist, and some employees get no breaks at all

If you're going through a long work day — especially in the restaurant or retail industry — things can get overwhelming, and you may need to take a breather to regain your energy. It helps when these breaks are consistent, but Papa John's workers don't seem to get this luxury. According to one review of the job on Zippia, breaks at Papa John's happen "whenever business allows," which is when the orders and walk-ins lighten up. Unfortunately, for many employees, this essentially means never.

Multiple employees of the pizza chain have expressed that they were unable to take regular breaks while on shift. While one of the Papa John's workers appreciated the discounts they got on food and the flexible work schedule, they stated that there were no breaks and no benefits (via Indeed). Another worker posted on Simply Hired that the company expressed that their "downtime" was their break, but that they never actually had any downtime, as they were always doing something, like cleaning around the store or folding boxes. While it can be satisfying to get work done, we don't know if even the free pizzas can make up for having no breaks.

You'll get a flexible, but only part-time, schedule

Something that makes a job great for college students — and anyone with other commitments — is a flexible work schedule. More often than not, many employees for fast food chains will have other things going on in their lives, like school or another job. Fortunately, Papa John's is a company that offers that flexibility. Employees can work a flexible (but only part-time) schedule — but there is such a thing as being a little too flexible, which some employees have noted. It can either be super helpful or a detriment to their day if they end up working alone.

One employee on Niche noted that their work schedule was very flexible, and their managers allowed them to work on school assignments when business was slow and prep work was done. If you're a student, this sounds great, but on the other end of the scale, it can make for an understaffed, disorganized work day. Another employee for the pizza chain replied to a Q&A chain on Indeed that an employee could work as little as four hours per week. Talk about a short work week!

It's a fun first job

For all of the chaos and downsides you'll find working at Papa John's, many employees agree that it's a fun first job. The pay, schedule, and atmosphere makes it a good place for teens and young adults looking for pocket money rather than sustainable income. Despite all of the hardships these employees may face, many claim that it was a fun way to dip their toes into the restaurant industry. Aside from being surrounded by delicious pizza, many of these workers have had an overall positive experience.

On CareerBliss, one employee wrote that since they joined Papa John's, they've been able to work with an understanding manager and work around their school schedule so they're never late for class. Another employee noted that it's a great place for students to find a part-time job and that they planned to remain at the pizza joint as they worked on their master's degree (via Niche). Even if the pay can't buy you an expensive house, Papa John's does help first-time workers get themselves started and make a little money.