Papa John's is serving up some sizzling new growth

Papa John's (PZZA) will be serving something else to investors soon besides just sizzling same-store sales growth under CEO Rob Lynch. 

A long awaited side of new restaurant growth. 

The pizza chain revealed Wednesday it signed its largest U.S. franchisee store opening deal in its history. Under the deal with Sun Holdings, Papa John's will see the addition of 100 new stores in Texas by 2029. The tie-up comes quickly on the heals of Papa John's inking a deal to open 225 new locations internationally by 2025. 

"Our big global competitors have two to three times more restaurants than we do globally. So we think that over the next five years we are going to work to double the number of restaurants we have," Papa John's CEO Rob Lynch said on Yahoo Finance Live. 

Papa John's has 5,400 restaurants open globally, compared to nearly 18,000 each for chief rivals Domino's Pizza and Yum! Brands-owned Pizza Hut. New store openings for Papa John's have been stagnant in recent years as Lynch — hired from Arby's to save the then struggling chain in 2019 — has worked to improve relations with franchisees and customers. The company has also bolstered production innovation, releasing a sandwich like item called Papadias. 

Coupled with that innovation and more people eating at home during the pandemic, Papa John's same-store sales have been on fire. Shares are up a fiery 55% in the past year, outperforming Domino's 15% gain. Yum! Brands' stock is up 33%.

Lynch said it's now time to put the pedal to the metal on growth with the brand having turned the corner.

"We are currently operating in about 50 countries globally whereas our two large international competitors are operating in about 100. So there are about 50 countries we can go into," Lynch added.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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