Rob Lynch

Chain Limited Service Category

Rob serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of Papa John’s.  He was announced as the successor to founder John Schnatter in August 2019. Before joining Papa John’s, he served as President of Arby’s Restaurant Group.  Rob was Brand President and Chief Marketing Officer at Arby’s before being named President. During his time at Arby’s, he led the brand’s dramatic turn-around to strong growth and profitability. Prior to that, he was Vice President of Marketing at Taco Bell. Rob has more than 20 years combined experience in the QSR and consumer packaged goods industries, having also held senior roles at HJ Heinz Company and Procter & Gamble. 

In his own words

How did you get your start in the foodservice industry? 
My start was working in a mom-and-pop pizza shop called Ardolino’s Pizza in Bethel Park, PA in 1992.  I paid my way through high school and college working in many foodservice establishments like Fiori’s Pizza, Ruby Tuesdays, and Outback Steakhouse, where I was a server and a bartender. My start in the large franchise foodservice industry was at Taco Bell, where I started as the VP of Marketing in 2012. 

What do you enjoy most about your career in foodservice? 
Bringing both customers and team members together. Foodservice people love food, and love sharing it with others.  It’s the hospitality nature of this industry that makes it so different from other industries, and so amazing.  

Tell us about a proud moment you’ve had along the way. 
There are so many moments in my career that make me proud. However, one truly stands out — It was when I was six months into my role as CEO of Papa John’s and the Coronavirus Pandemic hit. Our team immediately transitioned from trying to win in the marketplace to trying to beat a global virus.  We moved quickly to ensure that our restaurants, our supply chains, and our team members were safe and could continue to operate.... I was so proud of our team members across the globe that kept coming into work ...They came in because they knew that so many people were depending on them. And they truly made a difference. 

How would your team describe you as a leader? 
I am a very competitive person who cares deeply about, and believes in, the power of a highly functioning team.  I grew up playing team sports and I learned early on that people are capable of so much more than they think that they are, especially when they are part of a diverse team that supports each other. My team knows that if they are giving their best, I have their back and will help them achieve their fullest potential. 

What advice do you have for someone new to the foodservice industry? 
My advice is simple: Be positive and have fun. If you can’t have fun making and selling pizza, you are definitely not in the right industry.  We put smiles on people's faces every day, including our own!   

What does being an IFMA Silver Plate recipient mean to you? 
I have been working in foodservice my whole life and to be recognized as a leader in the industry means a great deal to me. It means that I have lived a life of service to others. That I have positively impacted many people's lives over many years.  

What is your favorite meal? 
I know that this is the absolutely obvious answer to this question but without a doubt, my favorite meal is pizza. I absolutely love pizza....and pizza has a unique ability to bring people together. Think about that…pizza is almost never eaten alone. It’s almost always shared with others during a joyous occasion, whether it’s the Super Bowl or just Friday Family Pizza Night. Pizza has the power to bring us all together. It’s why I get up and go to work every day and for that reason, I think that pizza should be everyone’s favorite meal!