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Local Papa Murphy’s franchise: 33 stores and growing

By Erik Stout/Jefferson StarMay 28, 2019

What started as a single store on East 17th Street in Idaho Falls has grown to be a franchise with more than 30 stores throughout East Idaho and areas as far east as Nashville, Tennessee.

Papa Murphy’s Regional Vice President of Operations Rusty Lewis has been with the company since 2001, starting with a minimum-wage job making pizzas. Before joining the company, franchise owners Dave and Clayton Myers opened their first store in 1994 in Idaho Falls.

“It was my first job, and here I am 17 years later,” Lewis said.

Dave Clayton started in the pizza business 38 years ago with Papa Aldo’s, and he eventually owned 12 stores. In the mid-1980s, Papa Aldo’s merged with Murphy’s, forming the well-known franchise Papa Murphy’s.

The locally owned pizza business has continued to expand over the years, employing approximately 500 employees and opening locations in Chubbuck, Pocatello, Rexburg and Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

As a whole, Papa Murphy’s has 1,400 locations found predominantly throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Lewis said their newest location will be in Rigby in the old Maverik building located at the corner of Clark and Main streets. A specific date hasn’t been decided, but Lewis said the latest they would open is Sept. 1. Up until then, they will renovate the building.

“It’s about the only town in East Idaho that we don’t have a store,” he said.

Another reason they decided to open one in Rigby was the location of the vacant building and because of the growth the city is experiencing.

“The population growth justifies us putting in a store there,” he said. “The location itself being so visible from the highway as well as ease of access; it’s what we call an ‘A-plus location.’”

After Rigby, the company doesn’t have another specific location decided, but Lewis said he believes they could open another location in the Pocatello area or open a store in Shelley.

“But none in the immediate future,” he said.

Lewis opened his first store in Nashville in 2013. Since then, he has also opened a store in Cedar Rapids. Lewis said the main reason they decided to open a location is Nashville is to expand the enterprise east.

“We’re trying to expand east,” he said. “The company is slowly growing out east, and Nashville was part of that growth plan.”

Lewis indicated that one aspect of the operation that sets them apart from other pizza businesses is the “fresh, never frozen” mentality when making the food.

“We don’t have freezers in our stores,” he said. “We prep everything for the day, which we do every single day.”

Lewis said their franchise group has won nearly every possible award related to the brand. In Lewis’ office, various awards line the walls that including highest system sales awards. Their 17th Street location for example, was the highest volume store in the country for 10 years.

As the company continues to grow, Lewis said their goal is to continue to be the best.

“We’re in the top 1 percent performance-wise in all the franchises in the system,” he said. “Our operations goal is to be the best.”

To be the best, Lewis said it’s all about fast, friendly service and quality pizza on a consistent basis.

“Us being here locally since 1994 kind of shows our commitment to east Idaho,” he said. “We are a local business, we are not a corporate.”

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