Quick — How many Papa John’s locations are there in Shanghai? If you said 15, either it was a lucky guess, you eat too much pizza or you get out a lot more than Shanghaiist. Papa John’s opened its 15th Shanghai store earlier this week. It’s a dine-in restaurant — unusual for the delivery chain — at 999 Changning Lu, near Zhongshan Park.
“This is my first trip to China and I have to tell you, I’m amazed,” said (founder John) Schnatter. “The restaurant we opened yesterday in Shanghai is the nicest restaurant in the Papa John’s system. Of course it is a dine-in restaurant. They do business differently here, which means, we do business differently here. Asian culture dictates that before you allow someone to deliver food to your home, you need to get to know that person first. To build relationships with our customers in this market, we’ve designed dine-in restaurants that provide an appealing atmosphere that is consistent with our quality ingredients.”
Reportedly, Papa John’s will open two more Shanghai outlets in the next few weeks, “one of which will be located in Phase II of Xintiandi,” which confuses Shanghaiist, because we didn’t think construction had begun on Phase II yet. Currently, the chain has 20 China locations. But they plan to have 250 here by, yes, the year 2010. (Go here if you want to have a stake in one.) Earlier this year, Pizza Hut’s China restaurant count stood at 160.
Shanghaiist has never eaten Papa John’s in Shanghai, mostly because it has always seemed rather expensive. More than $13 dollars for a 14-inch pizza? Some people avoid the place for other reasons. “The toppings always come off the crust,” said one friend of Shanghaiist. “I like my pizza to maintain its structural integrity.” Anyway, there is better, and cheaper pizza to be had at other restaurants in Shanghai. But if you have to choose between Papa John’s and Pizza Hut, we think John is your man.