CLEVELAND -- On Wednesday, Papa John's Pizza extended its 23-cent-pizza-on-Thursday offer to include Toledo and Youngstown to the locations in Northeast Ohio (Akron, Cleveland, Canton and Warren) where the offer was made on Monday.
Papa John's offer is an apology to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Cavalier LeBron James for having several of its Washington-area stores make T-shirts with LeBron's number and the word "crybaby" under it, T-shirts that appeared at Friday's playoff game with the Washington Wizards in Washington.
The chain is offering more than just food for thought.
Papa John's is offering 23-cent pizza Thursday, the day the Cavaliers play the Boston Celtics in Boston in Game 2 of the playoffs, to fans who may have had a "bad taste" left in their mouths after the T-shirt incident.
"I think that shirt was terrible," Cavs fan Pat Saltsman said. "I really do. I hope it costs them a million dollars."
"They were being stupid," Dan Schuler said. "That shirt was an insult to all of Cleveland."
Chelsea Chrostowski from Wooster added, "They're just jealous in D.C. because they don't have anybody with the talent of Lebron. The t-shirts were stupid and oh yeah, who won that series? We did."
As part of the apology to Cavs fans, Papa John's corporate Vice President of Communications Chris Sternberg said Wednesday that 50 Papa John's shops in the Northeast Ohio area, now including Toledo and Youngstown, will provide one large, one-topping pizza for carry-out/pick-up only, for customers. No on-line orders are included in this offer.
Sternberg said the 50 shops, including the ones in Akron, Barberton, Cleveland, Massillon, Toledo, Youngstown, Hudson, Wadsworth, Kent, Stow, Cuyahoga Falls, Euclid, Mentor, Barberton, Alliance, Macedonia, Shaker Heights, and Lakewood, will honor the 23-cent deal. The stores open at 11 a.m. and customers can call or come in to a shop to get the deal. However, no home delivery or on-line orders of the special "apology" pizzas will be made on Thursday.
The 23-cent deal is limited to one per household or one per person and all proceeds from the 23-cent pizzas are going to the LeBron James Family Fund and the Cavaliers Youth Fund.
"At Papa John's, we are huge fans of Cleveland, the CAVS and LeBron James. We have more than 40 restaurants throughout the Cleveland area that are operated by managers, pizza makers and drivers who grew up and live in Cleveland. These team members and Papa John's are committed to Cleveland, the CAVS and LeBron," the corporate statement read.
Tim North, the Papa John Northeast Ohio Division Vice President, told Channel 3 News that, "We're sorry, we're sincere, we're genuine and that's why the Thursday deal is coming down the pike for us. The franchise owners in D.C. went too far and we apologize for that to all the Cavalier fans."
Papa John's will also donate $10,000 to the Cavaliers Youth Fund.
Late Monday, the managers of the Washington, D.C.-area Papa John's said they will also donate $10,000 to the Cavaliers Youth Fund.
The shirts appeared after LeBron complained about hard fouls from the Washington Wizards, and Wizards' center Brendan Haywood called him a crybaby.
As Papa John's found out, there are a couple of things you don't do. With apologies to Jim Croce, "You don't tug on Superman's cape, you don't spit into the wind, you don't pull the mask of the ole' Lone Ranger," and you don't mess around with James, Lebron James, that is.
For Cavalier fans, the words "we are sorry" will never taste so good.
"Sure it was an insult, but I've got to say that I would buy a 23-cent pizza," Bobbi Thomas said.
"Apology accepted," Reggie Hall said. "23-cent pizza, I can't pass that up."
There are 10 Papa John's locations in the Toledo and Youngstown areas. Here is a map of the original 44 locations that will have 23-cent-pizza May 8. Just click on your city and the address and phone number of your Papa John's will appear.