American in Russia Has No Plans to Close His Papa John's

Colorado native Christopher Wynne owns company that oversees franchisees
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 15, 2022 10:20 AM CDT
American in Russia Keeps Papa John's Open
A Papa John's restaurant in the US.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Last week, Papa John's joined the companies that are suspending corporate ties with Russia over the invasion of Ukraine. As Fox Business reports, that means no "operational, marketing, and business support to, and engagement with, the Russian market." Russians themselves probably haven't noticed much of a difference, however. All of the approximately 190 Papa John's restaurants in the country remain open because they are run by independent franchisees. And in a twist reported by the New York Times, those franchisees are under the umbrella of a company run by an American who lives much of the year in Moscow. And he has no plans to shut down any of the businesses.

"The best thing I can do as an individual is show compassion for the people, my employees, franchisees, and customers without judging them because of the politicians in power," Colorado native Christopher Wynne, head of PJ Western, tells the newspaper. He adds that most Russians know the "dark gravity" of what's happening, but "at the end of the day, they appreciate a good pizza." Wynne's company has about 9,000 employees under its umbrella, and his plans are to keep expanding the number of pizza franchisees—assuming Vladimir Putin doesn't crack down on businesses with American ties. (McDonald's is different in that it owns most of its approximately 850 restaurants in Russia, which are now shut down at least temporarily.)

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