CHAMPLAIN - The Papa John's on U.S. Route 11 is locally-owned, which is something very important to Tawnya Hanson.
Hanson, co-owner of the Champlain location, said many people don't realize the majority of Papa John's are owned by locals.
"With any franchise that has a big name, like Papa John's, Dunkin Donuts, Kentucky Fried Chicken, they think it's that company that owns it and it's not," Hanson explained. "It's franchisees that buy into the company name."
Hanson, director of operations at M & W Foods Inc., said one day she was eating Papa John's with M & W vice president Ray Aley when he brought up the idea of owning one.
"After a meeting we were nibbling away on the leftovers and he said, 'We should open a Papa John's,' and I started to laugh and said, 'Yeah, we should with as much business as we give them.' About a week later, he called me up. He wasn't joking. I was. He said, 'We're opening a Papa John's, where do you want to go,'" recalled Hanson.
She chose the location of Champlain having been a manager of the Dunkin Donuts there for many years and being familiar with the area.
"I like the people in Champlain," said Hanson.
On Aug. 24, Hanson, along with Aley and her boyfriend, Chad Brown, opened Papa John's.
Brown and Hanson, both of Plattsburgh, said they feel it's really important for people to realize they are locals who want to help the community in whatever way possible.
"We really want to get involved in the community, we just haven't had a chance yet," Hanson explained. "We'd like to get involved in the schools in the area. Maybe do an honor student program. There's enough space here to maybe have a birthday party."
Brown said another way they've been working to help the community is by extending their delivery zone.
"It's well over the boundaries that we were given by Papa John's," he explained. "They only give us a three-and-a-half-mile radius, but we want to give it to the people."
"I'd rather drive the extra two miles to get people the pizza and to let them know that we are here and we're willing to go that extra," Brown added.
That idea is also what Papa John's is all about, with Papa the acronym for "People are priority always."
The towns they now deliver to are Rouses Point, Chazy and Mooers - although they are willing to meet people at a predetermined location if they live just outside those limits. They are also considering doing something special for those who live in Ellenburg.
"We'd like to eventually maybe have Monday be our Ellenburg night," Hanson explained, adding a location would be decided upon, and anyone who orders by a certain time can meet there to pick up their order.
Papa John's, located at 1038 U.S. Route 11, can be reached at 298-3865. Orders may also be made on-line by visiting www.papajohns.com, although currently only those in Champlain can use this method.
Brown added they are always accepting applications.
"The crew I have in the store, they've been amazing. They'll do anything for me," he said.