Papa John's touts new ovens
Kentucky-based pizza chain says energy-efficient models will slash consumption 25%, bake pies 30% faster.

NEW YORK ( - To offset rising energy costs, pizza chain Papa John's will replace all current ovens in its restaurants with a new energy-efficient model that promises to cut energy consumption 25 percent and bake pies 30 percent faster.

Louisville, Ky.-based Papa John's (Research) said Tuesday that its deal with Middle Corporation (Research) gives it exclusive rights to buy the Middleby Marshall 770 WOW! oven through 2008.

The company said in a statement that it has already purchased 1,500 of the new ovens and plans to install them in 500 of its restaurants by mid-2007 and in an additional 250 locations by 2008.

According to the Papa John's, the new ovens operate at varying energy levels based on order flow, resulting in lower energy consumption when not in use. The company maintains that the ovens will reduce pizza bake time from six and a half to four and a half minutes, and the company will also offer customers a 10-minute guarantee on carry-out pizzas during the busy lunch hour.

"With energy costs continuing to increase, we challenged [Middle Corporation] to produce a smart, environmentally friendly oven that would use less energy during low production times," Tim O'Hern, Papa John's senior vice president of development, said in a statement.

So what do Papa John's competitors think about four-and-a-half minute pizzas?

Dana Harville, spokeswoman for Domino's Pizza (Research), the No. 2 pizza chain behind Pizza Hut, said the company is "not worried" that Papa John appears to be upping the ante in the pizza war.

"Its most important to remember that on any given day, at any time, our customers can call us and get a hot pizza in between 10 to 15 minutes for carry out," she said. In terms of convenience, if people want it, we can bring a pizza to their home in 30 minutes. Papa John's already knows that our customers hold us in high regard and they probably see these new ovens as an opportunity to try to beat us in that regard."

In a statement emailed to, Yum Brands (Research) unit Pizza Hut said it has no plans to cut its pizza-making time.

"In our experience, freshly baked, high-quality pizza takes more than four minutes. And we think it's worth waiting for," said Jennifer Little, spokeswoman for Pizza Hut.


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