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Papa John's Just Made This Big Announcement About Its Menu

Fans of the mega-popular chain can expect to be wooed by items beyond pizza.

Papa John's recently reported successful 2020 results, with same-store sales growing 17.6% in a year. It was one of the delivery-heavy restaurant chains that saw an uptick in sales as Americans found themselves suddenly at home. Papa John's has a plan to ride the momentum past the COVID-19 pandemic, and it involves innovations that go beyond pizza.

Papa John's hit record unit volumes and incremental check growth throughout the year, and much of that success can be attributed to the innovative menu items introduced by the chain, according to CEO Rob Lynch. (Related: McDonald's Is Making These 8 Major Upgrades.)

"At the start of 2020, Papa John's innovation mindset was taking hold as proven by a wave of successful new products, including garlic parmesan crust, Papadias, and jalapeño poppers, which drove strong Q1 performance and a third consecutive quarter of positive comp sales at that time," Lynch said on the chain's Q4 earnings call. "Instead of buying, on average, two pizzas, people are buying two pizzas and a Papadia."

Non-pizza menu items were standout performers at Papa John's last year, so customers can expect more of the same winning strategy in 2021. That means you'll see more foods like Papadia sandwiches and jalapeño poppers pop up, according to Lynch.

"There's a lot of opportunity to innovate against pizza, lots of interesting ideas in the pipeline," Lynch said in a separate call with MarketWatch. "There are lots of chances outside of traditional pizza."

But Papa John's isn't about to leave pizza fans to fend for themselves. Innovations like a new stuffed crust and a limited-time Shaq-a-Roni pie helped the chain's pizza ticket averages, too.

Lynch also believes that the "premium" nature of the brand's food deserves higher price averages, so don't expect to see a price drop on the menu anytime soon.

"We will continue to bring innovation and not race with Domino's or Pizza Hut to sell the cheapest pizza," he told MarketWatch. "We think our product warrants a premium price."

For more on fast-food trends, check out 6 Most Anticipated Fast-Food Menu Items Launching This Year. And don't forget to sign up for our newsletter to get all of the latest restaurant news delivered straight to your inbox.

Mura Dominko
Mura is ETNT's Deputy News Editor, leading the coverage of America's favorite restaurant chains, grocery stores, and viral food moments. Read more about Mura