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"Everybody deserves a hot meal," Keith Sullins, president of Houston Pizza Venture, LP, Papa John's largest franchisee in the Houston market, says in a press release. "We are blessed to be able to help and will be cranking our ovens as long as it takes to help meet these displaced folks' basic needs."
Sullins, who oversees 49 Papa John's restaurants with 1,200 employees in the Houston market, is also set to hire 150 displaced victims of Katrina to work for the chain to deliver pizza. "It's the least we can do," Sullins says. "We need drivers, and these folks need jobs. I hired three individuals today forced to relocate from Louisiana, and we know there are many more folks in the same situation."
Papa John's also announced today that it has established a Disaster Relief Fund through which its franchisees and employees can make donations in support of Hurricane Katrina relief efforts in the Gulf Coast states. The company has pledged to match up to $50,000 in contributions and will make the donation through the American Red Cross. Additionally, Papa John's is dispatching two 18-wheelers filled with bottled water along with two mobile pizza kitchens for pizza distribution in affected areas.
"Our hearts go out to the many families impacted by this horrendous disaster," says Chris Sternberg, Papa John's Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications. "Papa John's is in the business of feeding people and bringing families together. We hope that by providing food to the hungry and funds to support long-term relief, we will begin to make a difference."
Approximately 50 Papa John's franchise restaurants in the Gulf Coast region were impacted by Hurricane Katrina, with 27 not having yet reopened. The company is working closely with the impacted franchisees to provide support, including sending generators to help reopen a portion of the affected restaurants.