Papa John’s Moves To The Bay, But Can It Succeed?

Papa John's in Sheepshead Bay

Papa John’s, a Kentucky based pizza chain in business since 1984, boasts that it has “Better Ingredients, Better Pizza.” We’re not sure if founder John Schnatter is aware, but the center of the pizza industry is New York City– and as New Yorkers, we are notoriously skeptical about a good slice.

Sheepshead Bay has its fair share of places to grab a decent slice but by no means are people flocking to the better bay in search of the perfect pie. Opening up a chain restaurant is not going to change that.

Having slowly popped up all over Brooklyn in recent years, Sheepshead Bay is finally getting their own Papa’s, and one major concern is its placement. Located at 3528 Nostrand Ave, a mere 167 feet away from Domino’s (3514 Nostrand Avenue), the area is not exactly lacking in terms of NYC’s most prized culinary masterpiece (apart from bagels). If you continue walking up Nostrand to Avenue U, there’s even a KFC/Pizza Hut– and we haven’t even touched upon ACTUAL pizzerias yet!

Pia’s Pizzeria is just two blocks away from the commercial pizza joints, and and three more blocks after that is the home of Connie’s — both of which have graced Sheepshead Bay with cheap eats and smiles for decades. Delmar, La Sorrentina,  Knapp Street, The Original 4, N&D and even Papa Leone’s may be a bit further away, but are all within delivery range. Word on the street seems to be littered with indifference, though Papa John’s had come under fire in 2007 after opening up a franchise next to Sunset Park’s Johnny’s Pizza — a neighborhood installment since 1968.

George, the owner of Pia’s Pizzeria, claims he doesn’t really care. “What am I going to do? It’s just more competition. I’m not worried. I’ve been here thirty years.” Some may share his sentiment, especially foodies who don’t consider chain pizza authentic, anyway. But certainly there are those who will be outraged that yet another brand name has taken up residence on the streets that used to be OUR neighborhood.

Convenience may be attractive, but at what cost?

What does this mean for Sheepshead Bay’s sudden abundance of doughy pleasures? Well, for starters, all you low-carb fiends trudging over to Bally’s in the snow this winter best resist temptation. With Papa John’s chocolate delight desserts on top of an impressive selection of allegedly fresh toppings and side dishes, the immediate impact will likely go straight to your thighs.

Beyond that, what does this say about the choices we make during times of economic duress? We are not living during a time when new business ventures are expected to do well– in fact, it’s common knowledge that most new businesses fail within the first year. But Papa John’s will likely be different. Why?

Pizza is cheap. Pizza, even when it’s subpar, is still reasonably good. You can’t really go wrong bringing home a pie. It’s one of the easiest and most affordable ways to feed a large family, especially with the deals that assembly line restaurants dole out to reel you in. Hell, even most frozen pizza is somewhat palatable these days.

At Papa John’s, you can feed a family of four for under $20 including dessert– you can’t even say that much for McDonald’s.

Papa John’s has not opened its doors for business yet, but when it does, will Sheepshead welcome the new patriarch of pizza on the block? Or, will it succumb to the fate of the cyclic closing of eateries that fail without the necessary hunger, both literally and metaphorically? In time, we’ll know for sure.

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