SK Papa John's crew earns crown

rying to decide which pizza restaurant in Port Orchard boasts the best-tasting product is a subjective matter at best.

But when it comes to judging which has the most most efficient production crew, the Port Orchard Papa John’s franchise has some empirical evidence on its side.

The restaurant, owned by Rain City Pizza and run by general manager Josh Garber, won the national Papa John’s Pizza Games pizza-making contest last month in Louisville, Ky., beating out the top four-man teams from Orlando and Colorado Springs.

“We have great talents in product quality and speed of production,” Dan Tift, director of operations for King and Kitsap counties, said. “And at the same time, they showed the greatest sportsmanship you would ever want to see.”

Garber and his team of Ian Buol, Charles Campbell and Sarah Smith, competed in three regional qualifying events before advancing to the finals, which were hosted by CBS college basketball sportscaster Billy Packer.

Each team made 10 pizzas and were graded on speed and quality.

Teams from more than 2,700 Papa John’s restaurant’s competed in the national contest.

“They showed a lot of energy and had a lot of fun,” said Tift, who attended the championship round along with Papa John’s Founder and Chief Executive Officer John Schnatter. “They represented Papa John’s and Port Orchard incredibly well.”

Garbor and Campbell have been with the Port Orchard franchise since it opened in December 2000. Smith has been a part of crew for a year, while Buol joined the team six months ago.

All four are graduates of South Kitsap High School.

“They are a tight group,” Tift said. “They went to school together and they trained for this together. They put in a lot of hard work and a lot of hours. The guys trained for weeks to be very efficient and very fast and to maintain high quality.”

Tift said the teammates would practice both during the restaurant’s down time and during busy dinner rushes to sharpen their skills.

Each member of the foursome won a vacation for two to either Disney World, Las Vegas or a Carnival Cruise.

The store will receive a trophy of sorts — a pizza peel that will be displayed in the restaurant until the 2004 pizza games.

Each team member also received a gold medallion from Schnatter.

“Our team members are our most valuable asset,” Schnatter said. “Team port Orchard’s commitment to delivering on our brand promise of better by providing our customers with a superior-quality pizza and outstanding customer service is what truly makes Papa John’s special. I’m very proud of their win in the 2003 Papa John Pizza Games.”

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