Papa John’s apparently has a secret weapon in its bid to spur growth: Its nearly 600 company-owned restaurants.

As the Louisville, Ky.-based chain considers its options to spur development in what is the fourth largest pizza concept in the U.S., those locations could prove valuable assets. The company is considering selling some of those restaurants to would-be franchisees, who use the locations as a starting point from which it can develop additional restaurants.

“Nothing is set in stone,” CEO Rob Lynch said in an interview. “But it’s an opportunity for us that a lot of our competitors don’t have.”

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