Essential Pizza, the franchise operator of 72 Papa John’s units in Minnesota and Colorado, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this week after multiple lawsuits from lenders and delivery drivers, and one against the franchisor. Baltimore-based Essential Pizza, which acquired the Papa John’s units in 2007, asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maryland Thursday to free up funds to pay the group’s estimated 1,200 employees and continue operations, ...

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