(CMR) Papa Johns Cayman is shutting down after the landlord has taken full possession of the location at Grand Harbour, including all of its contents. Allegations of a history of non-payment of rent have led to the property management firm, BCQS, placing a notice on the door dated March 1, 2023.
The parent company Island Pizza Holdings Ltd. T/A Papa Johns entered into a lease agreement with Cayman Grand Harbour Shoppes Ltd. on March 6, 2018, for a term of five years. According to the Notice to Quit, also published on the door, the lease terms were from November 1, 2017, and expired on October 31, 2022.
After the expiration of the lease, the tenant contained to occupy the premises based on a periodic tenancy, pursuant to s. 52 of the Registered Land Law (2018) provision. However, the landlord was demanding vacant possession of the property from March 1. The notice was dated January 31.
CMR sources have revealed that the Queen's Court locations have also issued legal notices against a backdrop of late rental payment history. It may not be long before they are evicted from that location either.
On Monday, CMR contacted the company's communications team in Jamaica, who initially promised a response within two days to all media in the Cayman Islands. However, nothing was received. A follow-up message resulted in a brief statement with no real explanation:
“We can confirm that the two franchise-owned Papa Johns restaurants in the Cayman Islands market will be closed this year. We’re grateful to all of our loyal customers in the Cayman Islands and hope to reopen in this market in the future with another franchise partner.”
Harrison Sheffield, Sr. Communications Manager
Sheffield made no mention of the Grand Harbour location being shuttered and commandeered by the property managers. He also makes no mention of when the closures were planned for.
In February 2019, SSL Growth Equity Limited purchased a stake in Island Pizza Holdings. At the time, they claimed that there would be an expansion to a third location sometime later that year. That expansion never occurred. Their desire to grow also included “a kiosk in proximity to the cruise ship passenger boarding facilities” to take advantage of the tourism market. That also did not happen.
SSL was involved in a recent major fraud investigation in Jamaica as authorities moved quickly to prevent the liquidation of assets after it was revealed that 3 billion Jamaican dollars were missing from various accounts, including that of Olympic champion Usain Bolt. That matter is ongoing.
The investment was held in a special-purpose vehicle named SSL Capital (Cayman) Ltd. and was managed by regional manager Osvaldo Sazo. It appears that Sazo has since moved on from the franchise. According to their website, they still have Caribbean locations in the Bahamas, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.
However, further research revealed that the Bahmas location closed in June 2020.
This is not the first time the franchise had issues. In September 2018, it was revealed that 51 locations had closed after some ongoing controversy involving its founder. Sales in North America declined by 9.8% and internationally by 3.3%. Founder and then-CEO John Schnatter came under scrutiny after criticizing the NFL's handling of national anthem protests.
He eventually resigned after numerous critics came forward to discuss his sexually inappropriate conduct and toxic work environment, which included using the N-word.
Post covid, the Louisville, KY-based pizza chain struggled with staff shortages.