Monday, April 27, 2015

In-N-Out in Idaho? Not likely, at least for now

Here's some In-N-Out to get you going on a Monday. You're still going to have to drive to Utah, Nevada or California to get, it, at least for the foreseeable future.
One thing I have come to appreciate in the years I have been doing updates on local business is that readers can’t get enough news about chain restaurants’ plans for this area.

Carl’s Jr., Chick-fil-A, Dickey’s Bar-B-Cue, Togo’s … it’s all good. Here’s news that’s been reported but bears repeating: Noodles & Co. on Hitt Road near the Grand Teton Mall is opening May 4.

Truly though, is there anything that could excite people here more than In-N-Out Burger? Some of you started salivating when you saw the headline, I’ll bet. I rest my case. I recently got a question from a reader and figured it might be time for an update. Are they coming here? It’s possible, but at this stage you’d probably have as much luck getting a definitive answer from a Magic 8-Ball.

Companies like In-N-Out never say anything until they’re ready to make an announcement. The answer could be no one day and yes the next. In-N-Out doesn’t franchise and its policy is to not build a restaurant too far from one of their distribution centers.

"At In-N-Out Burger, we make all of our hamburger patties ourselves and deliver them fresh to all of our restaurants with our own delivery vehicles," In-N-Out vice president of planning and development Carl Van Fleet told Business Insider earlier this year. "Nothing is ever frozen. Our new restaurant locations are limited by the distance we can travel from our patty-making facilities and distribution centers."

They have a distribution center in Draper, Utah, which is less than a day from here, but is that close enough? The history of In-N-Out in Utah is interesting. In June 2007, the company’s customer service department started getting calls from people asking if In-N-Out had opened a location in American Fork under a different name, Chadder’s. The look was similar, as were trademarked items on the menu. When In-N-Out's general counsel paid a visit he requested an “Animal style Double-Double with Animal fries.” He got what he asked for, and on the basis of that Utah District Court Judge Ted Stewart issued a temporary restraining order. Chadder's changed its color scheme and practices.

In 2009, In-N-Out opened a restaurant in American Fork, less than a mile from the Chadder's restaurant. After that, seven more In-N-Outs popped up in the Salt Lake Valley. Chadder’s went out of business.

Since then, In-N-Out has shifted its focus to Texas. Here’s a map showing the counties where they have restaurants. The nearest to Idaho is in Riverdale, north of Salt Lake City. Is expansion northward possible? Of course, but simple geography would suggest that more locations in Utah would be likely before anything came here.

Rest assured, we’re keeping an eye on it.

Friday, April 24, 2015

D.L. Evans building kiosk at Pancheri and Crane Drive

While another branch office could be in the future, at the moment D.L. Evans is putting an ATM kiosk at the corner of Pancheri and Crane Drive.
There are three new developments on the retail financial front this spring in Idaho Falls.

Number one, D.L. Evans Bank, fresh off opening a new branch in Ammon, is building a drive-through kiosk on the corner of Pancheri and Crane Drive. Idaho Falls already has one such kiosk, the one built installed by Wells Fargo north of the new Walgreen’s at Skyline Drive and West Broadway.

Expect to see more of them, as they represent a growing trend in the industry. Analyst Nancy Bush of NAB Research told National Public Radio last year that instead of spending on real estate and staffing, banks can install street-corner ATMs and pay fewer employees to video chat from remote call centers. That doesn’t mean branches are going to go away altogether. “They still see the branch as their biggest revenue generator,” she said.

On Outlet Drive, north of the Sleep Inn and Double Down, Westmark Credit Union has filed site plans at the Idaho Falls Building Department for a new 4,694-square-foot branch office. This will be its fourth office in the Idaho Falls area.

Officially know as West 33rd South, Outlet Drive extends north from West Sunnyside Road all the way up to a point where it becomes Bellin Road.

As for the third piece of news, H&R Block has filed plans with the city to locate in the Railway Crossing Center on Utah Avenue next door to the Jamba Juice that will be going in.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Costco-watching site makes no mention of plans for Idaho Falls

I got a Costco question this morning, so I figured it might be time to check and see if there has been any action. In 2012 I discovered a site (this isn't a local phenomenon, you see) that features frequent updates on where the chain is building and planning new stores.

Judging by the link, which you can find by clicking here, you fans are going to have to continue driving to Pocatello for a while. The list of stores opening imminently is as follows:

Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico -- April 30, 2015
Wichita, Kan. -- June 3, 2015
Mobile, Ala. -- June 4, 2015
Rochester, N.Y. -- June 5, 2015
Perrysburg, Ohio -- June 18, 2015
Pleasant Prairie, Wis. -- June 19, 2015
Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico -- June 2015

Beyond that, there are stores opening in Japan, Taiwan, Spain, Korea and Canada. Indeed, the world may be Costco's oyster, but poor little Idaho Falls is chopped liver. Sorry.

Broadway Ford's rubble to be used for FEMA training exercise

Demolition work at Broadway Ford on West Broadway Tuesday morning. The new showroom is in the background.
Demolition of the old Broadway Ford building on West Broadway started Monday and continued today, but the rubble will not be cleared away until after the Idaho Falls Fire Department’s Urban Search & Rescue team conducts a training exercise there Wednesday night from 5 to 9 p.m.

USAR is a program administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and involves the location, rescue and stabilization of victims trapped in confined spaces. The program prepares first responders on various emergencies or disasters including earthquakes, storms, floods, dam failures and hazardous material releases.

Over the past few days, objects have been placed throughout the empty Broadway Ford building in preparation for the drill. After the demolition crew brings down the building upon the objects, the IFFD’s Technical Rescue Team will attempt to locate and “rescue” them.

“We are very pleased that the owners of Broadway Ford could make this building available for such a unique training opportunity,” Idaho Falls Fire Chief Dave Hanneman said in a press release. “We would also like to thank TMC Contractors and Morgan Construction for allowing us access to the building for fire training over the last couple of weeks.”

Broadway Ford moved to a new, state-of-the-art facility in early March. Spokeswoman Ann-Michelle Jones said that after the old building is cleared away the site will be landscaped, after which a grand opening will be held.

Regional cooperation stressed at Mayors' Business Day

Since it started in 2009, the annual Mayors' Business Day in Idaho Falls has gained an increasingly regional focus.

Today at the Shilo Inn, four mayors -- from Idaho Falls, Ammon, Shelley and Blackfoot -- stressed the need for a coordinated effort toward economic development.

"If we can work together, there is so much potential here," said Ammon Mayor Dana Kirkham, who said she has high hopes for the Regional Economic Development Corp. of Eastern Idaho, more often referred to as REDI.

REDI was recently formed by the merger of Grow Idaho Falls and Bingham Economic Development. Kirkham pointed to what happened in the Denver metro area who traditional resource-based economic mainstays began to wane in the 1980s. In the face of a slumping economy, the economic development organizations pooled their resources and focused on the area's asset -- universities, a national laboratory and defense contractors. With a streamlined central point of contact, the economy came back stronger than ever.

"I believe that story can happen here," she said.

Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper said eastern Idaho communities need to develop the tools that will help them bring better paying jobs. That can be anything from curb appeal, e.g. sidewalks, parks and signage, to tax breaks, grants and innovative financing opportunities. "More opportunity, that's what drives this," she said.

Casper said it's not so much about greed as it is about building a community where people don't have to work two jobs to get by, "so they can read to their kids at night."
"(Free enterprise) is a system that requires internal motivation that causes us to want to engage in the marketplace," she said.

In Shelley, the latest success story is the opening of Golden Valley Meats, which could have gone somewhere else had economic incentives not been offered, said Mayor Stacy Pascoe.

Shelley is relatively new to the economic development game and welcomes the opportunity that REDI offers, he said.

"There isn't very much for people already in the workforce for people who want to better themselves," he said, adding that help from the state for people who want to get more educated might be money well spent.

Blackfoot Mayor Paul Loomis said that while agriculture and manufacturing has sustained the economy, he would like to see more diversification, especially in the retail sector.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Jamba Juice files plans for Utah Avenue location

The shopping center off South Utah Avenue where Jamba Juice has plans to locate a second Idaho Falls area location.
Jamba Juice will be adding a second location in the Idaho Falls area, in the Railway Crossing center that is being built at Utah Avenue and Simplot Circle.

According to building plans at the city of Idaho Falls Building Department, Jamba Juice, which has had a store in the Ammon Town Square for years, will occupy an 1,1800 square-foot section at the south end of the commercial center, which is being built by Morgan Construction across the street from Carl’s Junior and Wal-Mart. An opening date has not been announced, as the nine-unit center is still being framed.

The franchisees of this store are Ryan and Julie Arfmann, whose company Juice It Up, Inc., operates the Jamba Juice in Ammon and one in Twin Falls.

Founded in Emeryville, Calif., in 1990, Jamba Juice has grown to more than 800 locations in 26 states, as well as the Bahamas, Canada, the Philippines, Mexico and South Korea. There are approximately 287 company-owned locations and 517 franchise-operated stores in the United States of America, in addition to the 45 international stores.

Casper nominates accountant to fill council vacancy

Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper announced today she has nominated David Smith, a local accountant, to fill the City Council seat that has been vacant since the March 1 death of Dee Whittier.

An Idaho Falls native, Smith was selected from a list of eight people who had applied for the council seat. In a press release this morning, Casper said she planned to present her recommendation to the City Council at their regular meeting Thursday night. She cited Smith's long experience in forensic accounting a key element, replacing the financial acumen the council lost with Whittier's untimely death.

Smith was also a member of the Citizens Review Committee that studied the city's Municipal Services division in 2014. His community service includes Idaho Falls Exchange Club, the United Way of Idaho Falls and Bonneville County, the Idaho Falls Family YMCA and the Eastern Idaho Economic Development Council.

He and his wife, Karen, a recently retired city employee, are the parents of five children.