In an era where many companies are quick to embrace progressive ideologies, a recent cautionary tale highlights the pitfalls that can await those who abandon their roots. Papa John’s, once a beacon of operational excellence and a bastion of conservative values, now finds itself grappling with the consequences of forsaking its heritage.

Amid the growing trend of “going woke” and the ensuing financial backlash, it’s not only tech giants and media moguls who are feeling the sting. The latest casualty, in a surprising twist, is none other than Papa John’s, a heavyweight in the fast-food pizza industry. The pizza giant’s journey from operational prowess to PR-driven misstep serves as a stark reminder that principles matter, and straying from them can have dire consequences.

Former CEO John Schnatter, who steered the ship through years of success, laments the company’s decline. “I think they’ve really lost their way,” he reflects. Once driven by principles and values, Papa John’s now finds itself mired in a quagmire of public relations strategies, losing touch with what had set it apart. “They’re losing traffic, they’re losing customers,” Schnatter notes, revealing a disheartening reality that over 40% of stores are operating at a loss.

Under Schnatter’s leadership, Papa John’s wasn’t just known for its pizza; it was heralded as a beacon of quality and service. A staggering 18 out of 19 years, the company was voted “the highest quality in the pizza category” on the American Customer Satisfaction Index. It’s a far cry from the present, as Schnatter ruefully remarks, “They now are down with Little Caesar’s, so the thing has really got away from them.”

It’s not merely a slide in operational excellence that has sullied Papa John’s reputation. The company was once a bastion of conservative values, embodying traditional American virtues. Schnatter recalls, “We used to say the pledge of allegiance to the country before meetings. We ran our business on principles.” The essence of what made Papa John’s great—quality, service, culture—now hangs in the balance.

Schnatter’s departure from the company was marred by controversy, a victim of cancel culture. His unfortunate use of a racial slur during a conference call led to his ousting, a move that signaled a shift in the company’s ethos. With his exit, it seems, went the very values that had sustained the pizza giant.

The lessons drawn from Papa John’s predicament resonate far beyond the world of fast food. It’s a microcosm of a larger struggle, a clash between tradition and progressivism, values and PR maneuvers. Schnatter’s own words encapsulate the predicament succinctly, “If you don’t have that quality, you don’t have that service, and you don’t have that culture, you’re asking for, you know, a bad day at the office.”

In an era of relentless change, where ideological battles rage across industries, Papa John’s serves as a sobering reminder of the power of core principles. As conservative values are brushed aside in favor of the prevailing winds of progressivism, the price can be steep. Papa John’s, once a titan, now stands as a testament to the perils of straying too far from one’s foundations.

In a world where the “go woke, go broke” adage is increasingly pertinent, Papa John’s narrative unfolds as a cautionary tale. It’s a lesson not only for businesses but for society at large—values matter, and forgetting them can have consequences that reverberate far and wide. The story of Papa John’s serves as a reminder that in the pursuit of progress, we must not abandon the principles that have shaped us.