July 25, 2021

Why Papa John’s former CEO just bought a restaurant chain that serves 60 different wines

Former Papa John’s CEO Steve Ritchie has put himself back into the pressure cooker that is the restaurant industry.Ritchie and his wife Melissa (a long-time Papa John’s executive, too) launched Endeavor Restaurant Group last week, and have wasted no time in making their first purchase. The pair bought craft wine and tapas concept LouVino Restaurant and Wine Bars for an undisclosed sum. LouVino launched in 2014, and has since expanded to five locations spanning Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio. It serves more than 60 wines by the glass.While Ritchie says the pandemic is likely to continue weighing on the restaurant industry for the foreseeable future, it felt like the right time to begin building a portfolio of brands to potentially expand.“You have got to have a passion and a belief that this thing will turn. I believe it is. I think we are seeing great things on the health front with the roll-out of all the vaccines and we are just looking for restaurants that are really differentiated and that make a difference. I think consumers are looking to get back into restaurants as we get through hopefully the spring and summer,” Ritchie told Yahoo Finance Live on Monday.Decades of experience will be put to the testSuffice it to say, Ritchie enters his new venture with considerable restaurant industry experience.Ritchie has been in the restaurant industry for 25 years, starting at Papa John’s as a customer service rep. He led Papa John’s as CEO for nearly two years before exiting in August 2019 amid a boardroom battle with ousted founder John Schnatter and activist investor Jeff Smith of Starboard Value.

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