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Lathrop Chamber honoring Papa John’s as entreprenuer

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Lathrop Chamber honoring Papa John’s as entreprenuer

Angela Johal is the Lathrop Chamber of Commerce’s 2012 Entrepreneur of the Year – an honor that she set out to claim immediately after she saw a friend win it last year.

JASON CAMPBELL/The Bulletin


POSTED April 5, 2013 2:33 a.m.

LATHROP – Angela Johal was busy making a pizza when she received the phone call.

It was the Lathrop District Chamber of Commerce informing the Papa John’s Pizza franchisee that she had been named the organization’s annual Entrepreneur of the Year.

All she could do is stop and cry.

They, of course, were tears of joy, but they were also tears that marked the culmination of a long process that began at the Chamber’s installation dinner the previous year when she made a pact with herself.

“I saw Andy (Kotecha) get up there and receive the award for Entrepreneur of the Year and I told myself, ‘Next year that’s going to be you,’” Johal said. “It was something to aspire to. I wasn’t actually thinking that I would get it, but I carried out my business with that in mind, so when I got the phone call all that I could do is cry.”

But there were a variety of factors that also played into Johal’s sudden emotional turn as well.

Born and raised in Nottingham, UK – “the home of Robin Hood” she says – Johal came to the United States on vacation to visit her sister in San Jose and liked the weather so much that she called her parents and told her that she wouldn’t be returning.

And she carved her own path from there – working her way into the business world and crafting a career out of human resources.

In the back of her mind, however, was the unwavering desire to go into business for herself – to find a franchise that offered a product that she believed in and that she liked that she could see herself getting behind.

So she started looking. And looking. And looking. She browsed through hundreds of opportunities but none seemed as intriguing as Papa John’s – a chain that not only served up the one food that everybody loves, she said, but does so in a way designed to support those who go out on the limb to franchise the name.

“Their support of the franchisees is really what’s great and is really what sold me on it,” she said. “They offer such a broad range of support. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting John on a handful of occasional, and I definitely respect and look up to him for what he has built.”

With a strong staff at her disposal, Johal has grown the business and established a steady and loyal following among local customers. It’s her involvement with the chamber, however, that has the outspoken and energetic Brit more excited than anything else – especially with the awards dinner coming up and some of her family members are looking at flights from the UK to show their support.

“Working with the chamber has been a delight,” she said. “Mary Kennedy Bracken has been full of so much insight.

“And when I found out that my family is thinking about coming – about flying to the United States – that wowed me. They’re honored for me, and I appreciate that.”

Papa John’s Pizza is located at 1248 W. Lathrop Road, and is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week. For additional information, or to place an order, call (209) 239-7200 or visit www.papajohns.com. 

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