Steve Ritchie’s Remarkable Climb from Bottom Job to Top Job at Papa John’s

Steve Ritchie was born in Louisville, Kentucky, where he graduated from Seneca High School. During his senior year, he took a job with a local Louisville pizzeria and threw himself into the job. He would often volunteer to close up the place at night. He worked 14-hour days and many late nights.

Even though the pizzeria was struggling financially, 18-year-old Steve Ritchie opted to buy the restaurant to try his hand at being the owner and operator of his own business. He said he became an entrepreneur with practically no experience in how to operate a business.

Ritchie managed to keep the pizza shop open for another two years. He said he maintained the business longer than it was expected to last. He said the experience taught him the values of hard work, the refusal to give up and how to keep a floundering business going.

Since his stint at owning and operating a pizza eatery gave him experience in this sector, Steve Ritchie then opted to join the Papa John’s pizza chain, then an up-and-coming brand. His first job was on the bottom rung. He took orders for pizza by phone. He was soon promoted to a pizza delivery driver. His pay was $6 an hour.

Despite the low pay and long hours, Steve Ritchie felt enthusiastic about his job. At an early age, he had already decided that “Pizza is my life.” His high motivation and keen acumen for developing new efficiencies found Steve Ritchie rising up the ladder in the rapidly growing Papa John’s pizza empire. From driver, he was appointed to the position of manager. He excelled at this job and was soon upgraded to the job of regional section manager. Within 10 years, Steve Ritchie owned his own franchise.

Owning a Papa John’s franchise can be a lucrative business. Many in Steve’s position might be content to call it a career. Running his own Papa John’s could have provided him with a comfortable income for years to come. But Ritchie is the kind of guy who was always looking further, innovating and contributing to the overall pizza enterprise that attracted the attention of company officials much higher up the chain.

In 2014, Steve Ritchie was named Chief Operational Officer for Papa John’s. just four years later, Steve Ritchie achieved an amazing feat. He was named CEO of Papa John’s, rising from $6 per hour delivery guy to leader of the third-largest pizza chain the world. Find out more about Steve Ritchie Papa John’s: