The Pizza Man: from delivery boy to executive chief

In terms of popular household names, Papa Johns Pizza is one that has become quite well known over the past several decades. A name perhaps not so familiar however, is Steve Ritchie. In 2018, Ritchie stepped up as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for the popular pizza chain. To the table, Ritchie brings a lifetime of experience in the business of pizza, making him a fitting choice for the role.

Rather than a fancy business or marketing degree to back him, Ritchie earned his education the old fashioned way… working at a small pizza shop at age 16. With financial help from his grandfather, Ritchie purchased that shop in 1998 at age 18. He divulged to Louisville business in 2013 that during the first 2 years of ownership he’d worked 14 hour days, 7 days per week to build the business. The restaurant ultimately failed, leading to Ritchie’s 1996 transition into a Papa Johns shop where he earned minimum wage as a counter person. Ritchie quickly rose through the ranks of the company in various positions from delivery driver to franchise manager, owner, president and Chief Officer of Operations (COO).

Despite all of his success and strong leadership skills, Ritchie is known as a shy, quiet person from humble beginnings. The now 46 year old attributes his strong work ethic to that of his hard working, blue collared parents to whom he was born at a very young age. Those in the industry who know Ritchie well describe him as loyal, dedicated and above all, very deserving of his new position as CEO of the world’s third largest pizza delivery chain. When asked by the Courier Journal how he will rise to the occasion? Richie simply replied, “Pizza is my life” (Wolfson). Steve Ritchie resides with his wife Melissa and their two daughters in Oldham County, Kentucky.

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