Investigating the Closure of Colby Favorite, Papa Johns

The rumors that have been taking Yik Yak by storm are true: to the disappointment of Colby students and Waterville locals, the Waterville Papa John’s, formerly located on Kennedy Memorial Drive, has officially closed their doors for business. Luckily, Domino’s and Waterville House of Pizza (WHOP) are in the clear, but for all of the Papa John’s fans out there, it’s time that we get some answers. Luckily, The Echo was able to sit down with our local Waterville celebrity, “Shawn from Papa John’s,” whose claim to fame ranges from his reliable delivery services to the money-saving deals that he posts on Yik Yak. “The store just wasn’t making a profit for some time now. The owners always had the perspective of trying to make it work, since it was one of their first stores. But out of the blue they decided that they wanted to cut their losses and closed the store,” Shawn explained. Shawn also told The Echo that the numerous Yik Yak posts that have claimed to be from him communicating with his dedicated Colby fans since the closing of Papa Johns are not actually him.

The closing of Papa Johns led to many social media tributes, including this especially thorough one, by Natalie Oakes '18.

The closing of Papa Johns led to many social media tributes, including this especially thorough one, by Natalie Oakes ’18.

Bill Mitchell, the owner of the franchise as well as KMD Plaza, closed the store abruptly two weeks ago. The store manager told The Morning Sentinel that the news was sudden, and the closure was almost immediate, with the windows covered with brown paper and a sign announcing their closing only a few days after the news was announced to the employees. Mitchell is planning on leasing the store within the next two to three months.

As for delivering to Colby, Shawn noted that he’s “originally from New Jersey and the culture in Maine is just different, less diverse. Coming on campus just felt more familiar. Not to mention Colby probably had my overall friendliest and most appreciative customers. I got to know a lot of people there, and it was nice.” Currently applying for a job with a company up in Bangor,  Shawn has little confidence that Papa John’s will ever make a comeback. “I know they were playing with the idea of moving the store to Main Street at one point, so if they do re-open in Waterville it would probably be there. But I think it’s unlikely at best.”

Of course, The Echo also set out to see the direct effect that this travesty has had on Colby students here on the Hill. A survey of 100 Colby students showed that 52 preferred Papa John’s, 32 preferred Domino’s, and only 16 preferred WHOP. Loyal customer Natalie Oakes ’18 was a weekly supporter of both Shawn and Papa John’s. “[Papa John’s] was an important part of both my friends’ and my time at Colby,” she says. “We made a lot of friends through various Papa John’s adventures and will miss the connections it gave us.” As for her next steps, “Colby students could resort to Domino’s or WHOP going forward, but it will not be the same.”

Mark Ravichandran ’16 agrees, “I’m kind of bummed, losing the whole two for one deal was definitely tough.” However, not all Colby students are crippled by the loss. “I only order from Domino’s, mostly because they have a gluten free crust option,” Maddy Placik ’18 points out. “That way, I never miss out on pizza with my friends on a Saturday night.” As for Shawn’s loyal band of supporters, he has not forgotten about you. “To everyone that got to know me, thank you. We had a good run. A lot of you made my job more enjoyable than you could realize. You’ve given me stories and memories that I’ll be repeating for years to come. Even though I’m moving on to better things I really will miss simply being there.”