Strip mall could see Papa John’s by mid-summer

Published 12:30 am Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Papa John’s in the works for the shopping center anchored by Corner Market grocery at North Frontage Road and Indiana Avenue could open by late June, a pair of local businessmen said.

Steven Tzotzolas, a co-partner on the venture with local restaurateur Rusty Larsen, said 14 to 18 delivery drivers and counter staff will be employed in the former Mail Center storefront. It would be Vicksburg’s first location for the Louisville, Ky.-based pizza chain, known for its specialty dipping sauces and banana peppers included with its pizzas.

An operating lease for 1,200 square feet was secured late last month for the store. Tzotzolas expects about 78 percent of the local business will be delivery-based.

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Papa John’s is the world’s third-largest pizza chain, behind Pizza Hut and Domino’s, with about 3,700 company-owned franchises. The company was founded in 1985 by John Schnatter, now the company’s chairman and co-CEO, when he began delivering pizzas out the back of his father’s tavern, according to the company’s website.

Vicksburg has two Pizza Hut locations, on Clay Street and Pemberton Square Boulevard, a Domino’s on U.S. 61 South, a Pizza Inn on East Clay Street and a Fox’s Pizza Den on U.S. 61 North. Billy’s Italian Restaurant and Roca Restaurant & Bar offer pizzas with specialty toppings.

In the past 20 years, the strip mall location, which occupies Suite R at 3046 Indiana Ave., has housed the Mail Center, Signs First and a yogurt outlet.