Simple Simon’s Pizza opens first Idaho store

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Jacob Huffman, Cole Culp, and Joe Culp pose in the store front of the first Simple Simon’s Pizza in Idaho. It is located in the Bonners Ferry Conoco. Photo by Tanna Yeoumans

BONNERS FERRY — Simple Simon’s Pizza opened their doors for the first time in Idaho on May 17 in the Bonners Ferry Conoco. The Franchise Development and Support Team Leader, Joe Culp, had been working with city officials, such as Mayor David Sims, over the past four years in order to bring the franchise to Bonners Ferry.

With Bonners Ferry Conoco changing hands from the McIntire family to Tom Pashane, owner of Eagles Landing LLC., Culp was given the opportunity to take over the area of the store where Subway used to be. With the assistance of Badger Building Supply, they renovated that area of the store over the course of three months in order to accommodate the needs for Simple Simon’s.

“We were looking for a place like this, and he was looking for someone like us to fill a place like this,” said Culp of Pashane.

Simple Simon’s Pizza first opened in Tulsa, Okla., in 1983 with the goal to “strive to provide great service, products, and value to our customers.” In 1987, the company opened another branch in Sand Springs, Okla. and continued to grow. By the year 2000, they expanded to about 200 locations across the U.S. and are still spreading.

Culp has a bachelor of science degree in marketing management and has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. While working for Pepsi over a 14-year period, he always had a business going on the side.

“I needed a vehicle to be that entrepreneur. I came across Simple Simon’s and saw how uniquely affordable it was to own a franchise,” Culp said.

Since 2007, Culp has opened 10 stores in four states. He created the businesses and a solid customer base and handed over the reins to local business owners in order to move forward and bring Simple Simon’s Pizza to other areas.

Previously, Culp had traveled through the Inland Northwest on his motorcycle in a venture to Alaska.

“I fell in love with the area, people, and atmosphere. Since then I looked for a way to open in the mountains,” Culp said.

Joe Culp’s son, Cole Culp from Missouri, and nephew Jacob Huffman from Arkansas, decided to leave home and move to the northwest in order to experience opening and managing the new store. They put in many hours working to hire and train the staff and prepare the restaurant to open for business.

“Customers want food, and know they have to pay for it, so we want them to know that we have the greatest value, with deals and signature items that can’t be found elsewhere. We are constantly finding ways to offer more value to the customer,” Cole Culp stated.

A few ways that they show their concern for offering the best value is showcased by their everyday specials, daily happy hour from 3 to 5 p.m., and the discounts they offer to military veterans and active service members, seniors, all first responders, and police officers. During school lunch hour, they offer lunch specials with even numbers, as well as utilizing the drive-through window in order to cater to the fast-paced needs of the students.

“Being located in a convenience store, convenience was our goal and we did make adjustments for the students,” said Cole Culp.

They have shown their support for the local schools by donating pizzas for the yearbook signing day this past spring, and offering the middle school cheerleading squad an opportunity to raise about $700 in funds by allowing them to sell punch cards.

“It was a great way to offer a great value to our customers and at the same time help one of the clubs here in town to raise money” Joe Culp said. “Any type of group in the community that is looking to raise funds is welcome to approach us in order to help them achieve their goals.”

With the vision of providing not only excellent service, products, deals, and community involvement, an idea turned into a dream, and that dream was accomplished through the dedication of this family. Cole Culp said, “We are ecstatic to bring our business to Bonners Ferry!”

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