New pizza store in Columbus will also have a drive-thru and offer pizza by the slice

A pizza delivery store that will have both carryout and delivery service, but also will be offering drive-thru convenience and pizza by the slice, is coming to north Columbus.

It’s the familiar brand of Papa John’s that has started construction of a 2,000-square-foot freestanding building at 7750 Old Moon Road, just off Veterans Parkway. And it should be serving customers sometime in January or February, possibly by the Super Bowl, which is typically known as one of the heaviest pizza consumption nights of the year.

“God, that would be nice,” said Scott Pratt, the Papa John’s franchise owner-operator for the local market, which currently includes four stores in Columbus, two in Phenix City, two in LaGrange, Ga., and one in Valley, Ala.

Pratt said he’s hoping the general contractor can finish his work before the National Football League championship game, which will take place Feb. 3 at Mercedez-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. He also said the new store will give him a solid presence in a high-growth, heavily trafficked area in north Columbus and just south of Harris County.

“You basically want to find the best location to give accessibility to your customers,” Pratt said. “Up there in that area, we wanted to be on that (northbound) side of the road so if you’re working in Columbus and you live in Harris County you can come up Veterans, grab some pizza, take a left on Williams Road and go up the interstate. We’ll also be delivering to Coca Lake (subdivision).”

City building permits show that the franchisee is spending $639,000 on construction of the 2,000-square-foot building that also will include Pratt’s new office. That’s on top of the nearly $400,000 purchase of the half acre of land upon which the structure is being built. It’s just behind the O’Reilly’s Auto Parts on Veterans Parkway and in front of a day-care center.

Pratt said he’s expecting the new store to be a high-volume location for the Papa John’s pizza that will be baked and delivered from the store. He noted that delivery in general is a tough model, but that the chain has become adept at it over the years, while also working to improve its products through the use of “clean” ingredients.

“It’s hard enough to run a restaurant, to hire good people and make a good product,” the franchisee said. “But it’s very, very hard to run a delivery business. If it was easy, Chick-fil-A, Burger King, McDonald’s, they would all deliver. So if you can figure out delivery and you’re good at it, you can differentiate yourself from other restaurants. We think we’re pretty good at delivering and that’s an area of growth.”

One final note of interest: Pratt is a Columbus native who graduated from Columbus High School in 1992, then from Columbus State University in 1996, just after the school changed its name from Columbus College.

“So my claim to fame is the 100th graduating class of Columbus High and the first graduating class of CSU,” he said.