University of Minnesota students returned to campus in September to find both Papa John’s restaurants missing.
Papa John’s, a pizza chain restaurant, disappeared from the St. Paul and West Bank locations on campus during the summer, with many students wondering why it left and what will take its place. Oath Pizza, a customizable pizza restaurant, will replace Papa John’s sometime this fall on West Bank and during winter break on the St. Paul campus.
Chris Elrod, the district marketing manager for M-Dining, said in an email to Minnesota Daily the decision to remove Papa John's was made this summer.
Although reports of inappropriate remarks by the founder of Papa John’s emerged this summer, Elrod said this did not ultimately contribute to the final decision.
“The University and M-Dining are committed to fostering an environment of inclusivity on campus and [do] not condone racism and insensitive language, no matter the context,” he said.
The two former Papa John’s locations — one in the St. Paul Student Center and the other in Blegen Hall on West Bank — were licensed by Aramark, a service-based business that licenses popular chain restaurants to operate them.
“Honestly, I think there could be more options,” said Calla Morrissey, a University junior. “We need ... more fresh stuff, more healthy options.”
Kenzie Barth, the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences Undergraduate Student Board’s student senator, said she's looking forward to working with the University to provide viable options for students.
“I'm hoping to replace the Papa John's option as quickly as possible, as there currently aren't many other options for students in Saint Paul,” she said.
Aramark recently announced its partnership with Oath Pizza in August to expand the pizza brand to universities, sporting arenas, offices and more, according to the Aramark website.
“What makes Oath Pizza unique is the ability for guests to fully customize their meal,” said Elrod. “We know that many guests on campus are looking for the ability to personalize their menu options.”
Feedback from students requesting more dining options is not going unheard, Barth said.
“I'm happy to be serving students because dining options are an important part of the student experience here at the U,” she said.
Barth will be meeting with a staff person from Terrace Cafe on St. Paul campus within the next few weeks to discuss more options.
“M-Dining is always looking for new ways to elevate the food experience on campus,” Elrod said.