Papa Johns opened its first pizza place in Medellín on September 22, 2015 on the ground floor of the La Strada building in El Poblado. And since opening their first location, they have grown to a total of seven locations in Medellín including three that opened so far in 2018.
Papa Johns started out in Colombia in Bogotá several years ago. And they have grown to have now over 35 locations in Colombia, including 20 locations in Bogotá, 7 in Medellín, 4 in Cali, 2 in Barranquilla, 1 in Chía, 1 in Cajicá and 1 in Vilavicencio.
In 2016, Papa Johns signed a restaurant development agreement with Grupo Nutresa in Colombia with plans to open 28 more locations in Colombia over a period of eight years. Grupo Nutresa is a large food processing conglomerate headquartered in Medellín.
Each Papa Johns location in Colombia has 15 to 20 direct jobs. So, continued expansion by the company will employee more Colombians.
Also, Papa Johns isn’t the only U.S.-based chain expanding in Medellín. Since November 2017, a net total of 22 new locations of U.S.-based chains have opened in Medellín.
Note the above photo is a new Rústica pizza at Papa Johns – the Works – with ham, pepperoni, Italian sausage, mushrooms, onions, green peppers and black olives.
Papa Johns History
The Papa Johns chain was founded in 1983. And it has now grown to over 5,200 restaurants in 46 countries.
Papa John’s is headquartered in Kentucky in the U.S. In addition, it’s the third largest take-out and pizza delivery restaurant in the world after Domino’s and Pizza Hut.
In Latin America this pizza chain has restaurants in 17 countries: Bahamas, Bolivia, Cayman Islands, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republics, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, Trinidad & Tobago and Venezuela. The company sees Latin America as a growth market.
In July, 2018, Papa John’s disclosed it had 1,210 restaurants in its development pipeline with 140 in North America and 1,070 internationally. So, the company is expecting much faster growth outside the competitive U.S. market.
The Pizza Menu at Papa Johns in Medellín
Papa Johns is a big chain pizzeria. So, almost all items on the menu are pizzas. In addition, Papa Johns has four pizza sizes: personal with 4 pieces, median with 8 slices, family with 10 slices and mega-family with 12 slices.
The pizzas at Papa Johns have two crust options, thin and a traditional crust, which is a thicker crust. But the thin is available only for a few pizza types. And it has three families of pizzas with different prices:
1. Traditional – are priced at 15,500 pesos per personal, 24,500 pesos for median, 33,500 pesos for family and 41,900 pesos for mega-family. Traditional pizzas include:
- Ham and pineapple
- Ham and mushrooms
- Chicken and mushrooms
- Ham and three cheeses
- Pepperoni and three cheeses
2. Favorites – are priced at 18,900 pesos per personal, 33,500 pesos for median, 43,900 pesos for family and 53,500 pesos for mega-family. Favorites pizzas include:
- Pepperoni Pizzazz – with extra pepperoni
- Italian – with pepperoni, Italian sausage, mushrooms and black olives
- Hawaiian – with ham and pineapple
- Pollo BBQ – with chicken, bacon and onions
- Vegetarian – with tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, green peppers and black olives
- The Works – with ham, pepperoni, Italian sausage, mushrooms, onions, green peppers and black olives
- Meats – with ham, pepperoni, beef, bacon and sausage
3. Insignia – are priced at 19,900 pesos per personal, 36,900 pesos for median, 47,500 pesos for family and 55,500 pesos for mega-family. Favorites pizzas include:
- Ranch Chicken & Bacon – with chicken, bacon, onions, tomatoes and Ranch sauce
- Hawaiian Chicken BBG – with chicken, bacon, onions, pineapple and BBQ sauce
- Ultimate Pepperoni – with extra-extra pepperoni and three cheeses
- Toscana with six cheeses
- John’s favorite – with pepperoni and sausage
- Spinach Alfredo Deluxe – with ham, spinach, mushrooms, bacon, tomatoes and Alfredo sauce
Of course, you can add or subtract items from any of the pizzas. And each pizza comes with a small tub of garlic sauce and spice packets.
In addition, there are Rústica and Chicago pan pizza options on the menu that have an even thicker crust. The Rústica pizza is a one size square pizza with 12 small slices, starting at 25,900 pesos. And the Chicago pan pizzas are available only as the medium size with eight slices and are priced from 27,500 to 36,500 pesos.
Also, there is a lunch special on Monday to Friday, which is a personal size pizza for 9,900 pesos with five different options for ingredients.
The Rest of the Menu at Papa Johns
In addition to the pizzas, Papa Johns has some accompaniments including garlic knots, rolls, cheese-sticks and breadsticks that are priced from 6,300 to 9,500 pesos.
And there are five desserts on the menu for 9,400 to 16,500 pesos. In addition, there are two new desserts – a mega-cookie with 8 pieces for 15,900 pesos and a brownie with 9 pieces for 18,900 pesos.
Finally, for drinks, they have sodas for 3,900 to 5,200 pesos depending on size and also water and tea. In addition, they have two canned beers available for 5,500 and 6,300 pesos.
How to Get to Papa Johns in Medellín
Papa John’s now has seven locations in the Medellín metro area as follows:
- El Poblado: Carrera 43A # 1 Sur-124, La Strada – Papa John’s first location in Medellín
- El Poblado: Carrera 30 # 10C-228
- Envigado: Carrera 43A # 23 Sur-84,
- Envigado: Calle 20 Sur # 25B-180
- Laureles: Carrera 74B # 39B-62
- Envigado: Carrera 48 # 32B Sur-139, Viva Envigado mall, third floor, opened in October 2018
- Envigado: Calle 49 Sur # 48C Sur-18, near the Mayorca Mega Plaza mall
Website: https://www.papajohns.com.co/ and you can order online.
Phone: one number in Medellín for domocilios (delivery): +57 4 310 6810
Note that the newest Papa John’s in the new Viva Envigado mall, which is on the third floor, is a small format version and didn’t have the full menu found at the other locations when it opened. But it later switched to the full menu found in the other locations.
The Pizza Market in Medellín – 13 Best Pizzerias
In my opinion, the big pizza chains in Medellín such as PizzaDoblePizza and Jeno’s don’t have very good pizzas. But Colombians definitely like pizza.
So, that is why the big U.S.-based pizza chains like Domino’s and Papa John’s are experiencing success in Medellín and other cities in Colombia.
There are also many small independent pizzerias in Medellín. We have also looked at 13 of the best pizzerias in the Medellín metro area with very good pizzas.
- Ammazza – a popular chain of three pizzerias in Medellín with excellent thin-crust pizzas.
- Pizzeria Centro – a pizzeria in El Centro with very good thin-crust pizzas.
- Café Zorba – a very popular pizzeria in El Poblado with very good vegetarian thin-crust pizzas.
- Due Amici Pizzeria – a pizzeria in Suramericana with very good thin-crust pizzas.
- Pizzería Olivia – a popular chain of eight pizzerias in Medellín.
- Pizza en Leña – a chain of two pizzerias in Sabaneta – owner is Dutch.
- Bigotes – a chain of three German pizzerias in Medellín – owner is German.
- Ragazzi Pizzas Y Pastas – a chain with three pizzerias in the Medellín area.
- Opera – a pizzeria in Laureles with good thin-crust pizzas.
- Ná Pizza – a popular pizzeria in Envigado with very good thin-crust pizzas.
- Pane y Pomodoro – a chain of two pizzerias in Medellín with good thin-crust pizzas
- Da Filippo – a pizzeria in El Poblado with good thin-crust pizzas.
- Cavieli Ristorante Caffe – a popular pizzeria in Belén near Clínica las Américas.
All 13 pizzerias listed above in my opinion have better pizza than the big pizza chains in Medellín like Domino’s, Jeno’s, PizzaDoblePizza or Pizzas Piccolo.
How does Papa John’s rank? In my opinion, Papa John’s has the best pizza out of the big pizza chains in Colombia. But all 13 of the above independent pizzerias we have looked at have better pizza than Papa John’s.
Which U.S.-based Chain is Next for Medellín?
Medellín has several U.S.-based chain restaurants and fast food places and some have been expanding in the city for several years.
Here’s a list of these chains with counts of locations in October 2018 in the Medellín metro area:
- Burger King – 13
- Domino’s – 21
- Dunkin’ Donuts – 23
- Hard Rock Café – 1
- Hooters – 1
- KFC – 11
- Krispy Kreme – 3 (but all 3 locations closed on December 1, 2018 when Krispy Kreme closed all its stores in Colombia)
- McDonald’s – 12
- Papa John’s – 7
- Starbucks – 8
- Subway – 57
So, that is a total of 157 U.S.-based chain restaurants and fast food locations in Medellín in October 2018. This count grew by 24 locations since November 2017, as seen in the following table:
There was a Wingzone in El Poblado, which is a chain from the U.S. But it closed. And nearly half the expansions over the past 11 months were due to two new malls that opened in Medellín.
The huge Viva Envigado mall that opened earlier this month has a Burger King, Dunkin’ Donuts, KFC, McDonald’s, Papa John’s, Starbucks and Subway. And the La Central mall that opened in May 2018 has a Burger King, KFC and Subway.
Bogotá has even more U.S-based chain locations due to being a much bigger city. Most noteworthy, Bogotá has several U.S.-based chains that aren’t available yet in Medellín, including Chili’s, Pizza Hut, TGI Fridays, P.F. Changs and Taco Bell.
No new chain has opened in Medellín in the past year. But I believe it’s possible we will see another U.S.-based chain enter the market in Medellín in the future. And this likely will be a U.S.-based chain that is already operating in Bogotá.
The Bottom Line: Papa Johns Opens 3 More Locations in the Medellín Metro Area
Papa Johns has been growing in Colombia. And it will continue to expand, particularly since it partnered with the big food processing conglomerate Grupo Nutresa for its expansion.
I personally like Papa Johns pizza for an occasional variety from all the thin-crust pizzerias in Medellín. My Colombian wife also really likes Papa Johns. And with its expansion there is now one near enough to where we live in Sabaneta that we can order delivery.
Some expats won’t like seeing this expansion. But for expats in Medellín that don’t want to see U.S.-based fast food places and restaurants that are expanding globally, sorry. You’ll have to go to a much smaller city than Medellín. Medellín has a metro population of about 4 million, which has already attracted 157 locations for U.S.-based chains.
U.S.-based chains are expanding globally because the U.S. market is very competitive. And the U.S. doesn’t have that much growth opportunity.
Also, keep in mind these U.S.-based chains expanding in Colombia employee Colombians and provide more dining options. In addition, while you may not like to see these U.S.-based chains expanding there are plenty of Colombian chains expanding as well.
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Editors note: updated on December 4, 2018 with information that Krispy Kreme closed all its stores in Colombia on December 1, 2018.