Papa John's has partnered with a local black-owned business to serve up wings smothered in D.C.'s signature mambo sauce.
Capital City, which specializes in making mambo sauce, announced on its website in early February that it was launching a partnership with Papa John’s restaurants in the D.C. area.
Wings and poppers with Capital City Mambo sauce are now available at 170 locations in D.C., Maryland and Virginia, a spokesperson for Papa John's told News4 on Wednesday.
The move to team with the minority-owned company comes less than a year after the national pizza chain's founder, John Schnatter, admitted to using the N-word during a conference call. He resigned as chairman.
Capital City said on its website the business partnership "was a hard decision to make considering Papa John’s history." Owner Arsha Jones said that when the company approached her and her husband, Charles, to use their mambo sauce, they were excited and nervous. But they wanted to take their time due to the history with Schnatter.
Jones said that through conversations with the company, they realized "the company is made up of a lot of really great people."
"We’re encouraged by Papa John’s new direction, and after talking with their team we felt that the company understood our business and appreciated the authenticity of our product," Jones said. "We believe this partnership is an authentic reflection of Papa John’s and Capital City’s commitment to the D.C., Maryland and Virginia community."
Matt Smith, a spokesperson for Papa John’s, told News4 that the partnership is part of a bigger commitment.
“Capital City Mambo Sauce understands the direction that Papa John’s is going—focusing on quality ingredients, products, new partnerships and a commitment to doing better,” Smith said via email.
Capital City Mambo Sauce wings, poppers, dipping sauce and bottles will be sold at all the participating locations.
Participating mambo sauce restaurants can be found on this map.
Online, custoumers have been responding positively to the partnership, Jones said. One customer tweeted, "I'm happy to see PJ collab with a minority owned small biz. Real good look and great taste!"
Jones said she hopes this collaboration can lead to bigger, national oppportunities for the local business.
"We’re able to boost our visibility to a larger audience," she said. "Our decision to partner with Papa John’s positions us for growth across the region."