Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Chick-fil-A: The Final Countdown

Thought you've seen enough of people camping out for a business opening? Get ready for Chick-fil-A's first stand-alone restaurant in Idaho, which is opening Dec. 8 at 3003 S. 25th East (Hitt Road).

The first 100 adults in line at the new restaurant will win free Chick-fil-A for a year, said Cindy Chapman, spokeswoman for CP Communications. Sounds simple, right? Not so fast.

Here are the rules: The first 100 adults in line by 6 a.m. Dec. 8, each will receive 52 free Chick-fil-A meal certificates for a year -- a total of more than $26,000 in free food being given away. But participants 18 years and older with identification can line up no earlier than 24 hours prior to the opening. In the event that there are more than 100 people lined up at 6 a.m. Dec. 7, all 100 spots will be determined by a raffle.

See http://www.chick-fil-a.com/Locations/First-100 for complete rules.

Chick-fil-A has been doing a First 100 promotion at all grand openings for eight years, since opening a restaurant in Arizona and noticing people showing up 15 hours early. Since then, raving fans have been arriving more than 24 hours in advance, packing tents, lawn chairs, computers, TVs, couches and all kinds of gear to make their wait more comfortable and entertaining.

While it has no control over the weather, Chick-fil-A provides security, entertainment, games, and, of course, plenty of fresh Chick-fil-A.

The new Chick-fil-A restaurant, one of 90 opening this year, will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Operator Lauren Mosteller anticipates the restaurant will bring 65 new jobs to the community.
The scene outside a recent Chick-fil-A opening.

Hobby Lobby eyes opening in I.F. market

One of our readers, Annette Barber Hall, asked earlier this month whether Hobby Lobby has any plans to open a store in the Idaho Falls area.

They do, said Scott Nelson, assistant vice president of real estate. The issue is, as is common with real estate, location.

Based in Oklahoma City, Okla., Hobby Lobby’s stores are typically 55,000 square feet, Nelson said. They look for busy retail areas with a lot of traffic, and have focused their attention on the Ammon side of Hitt Road.

“There are potential opportunities on the bookends, but we like to be in the middle,” he said.

Founded in 1972, Hobby Lobby recently started construction on its 500th store, in Las Vegas, Nev. The first store there, in Henderson, has done very well. “We’re a little bit on the recession-proof side,” Nelson said. “We offer inexpensive entertainment.”

Nelson said a stand-alone market like Idaho Falls-Ammon is right up their alley. “It’s got a good population and it’s Middle America,” he said. “That’s what we’re looking for.”

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I.F. ranks No. 2 in national survey of places to start over

It looks like Idaho Falls has once again made it onto one of those lists that name the best places in the United States to live. This one is from www.thedailybeast.com, which lists the 30 Best Cities for Starting Over. One question, though: What if you've lived here for 30 years already?

We're ranked second, behind Austin, Texas. Impressive, yes? I can think of places more different, but who here wouldn't mind having a little more of what Austin has when it comes to music, food and culture?

Nevertheless, this is great press and a good piece to help promote the area.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

10%: A Pittance or a Fortune?

I have to give a talk next week at my church, St. Luke's Episcopal, about how people ought to shoot for pledging 10% of their income. In light of the shopping frenzy of the past few days, I'd like to raise a question.

If I owned a store and advertised 10% off all merchandise, how would most people take it? You and I both know it would be considered it a joke. I would have wasted my advertising dollar.

Yet when you ask people to give up 10% for the Lord in whom they profess to believe, they squeal like Justin Bieber. (I'm not letting my atheist and agnostic friends off the hook either. How many of you consider 10 percent more than enough when it comes to tipping a waiter or waitress?)

There are times when I'm dickering with someone over the price of a guitar and I feel like saying, "How 'bout if I just sell it to you at 10 percent over cost? I don't need a stupid commission. I know you don't need money, and neither do I. Better yet, how 'bout if I just give it to you? Your happiness is important to me."

God's grace, of course, is free. Unfortunately, it's a lot more abstract than a wide-screen TV.

Full disclosure: Like most people, I have thus far lacked the nerve to tithe. My church is not a place where you hear the word "should" all the time.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

It's vitaminized? Oh, good!

I was doing an online search Wednesday, really just looking up an address, when I came across this link and this jpeg of an old beer label.

Long before the days of craft brewing, and before the great homogenization of the brewing industry in the 1970s, it was common for Anytown, U.S.A., to have its own brewery, as Idaho Falls appears to have had in the '30s, following the repeal of Prohibition.

Does anyone have any more information about the Pilsener Brewing Co. of Idaho Falls? From the sketchy information on the link, it appears to have been related to the Pilsener Brewing Co. of Seattle, but I wonder how so?

Second, can anyone decipher the signature on the label? The first name looks like Oskar and the surname looks German, starting with an L and ending with a z. Beyond that, I think it's anyone's guess, but maybe your eyes are better than mine.

I know we have a big beer community here, and it seems there's always one or two people who are into the history. Anything you can contribute would be appreciated. Speculation, as you probably know, is always welcome here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Boise produce dealer expands to I.F.

Grasmick Produce, a Boise vegetable dealer since 1955, has expanded into eastern Idaho with the purchase of a 16,000-square-foot warehouse at 1935 Enterprise, off South Yellowstone Highway, south of Sunnyside Road.

The sale was handled by Steven Frei and Brent Butikofer of Idaho Business Properties.

One of the leading produce wholesalers in the state of Idaho, Grasmick is a family-owned and operated company, with day-to-day operations overseen by the father-son team of Dutch and Mike Grasmick. From a 36,000-square-foot refrigerated warehouse in Boise, they service hotels, restaurants, schools, hospitals, government installations and retail stores.

According to information on http://www.manta.com/, the company employs more than 100 people and has annual sales of over $10 million. Grasmick purchases from vendors like Tanimura & Antle, Taylor Farms, Mann Packing, and TDI. They offer the freshest local produce as well as specialty items.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

INL plutonium powers newest Mars probe


Here's a link to the latest big news from the Idaho National Laboratory, which has been involved in creating the power supply for the Mars rover scheduled to be launched this weekend.

Steve Johnson, director of INL's Space Nuclear Systems and Technology Division, led the team that fueled and tested the Mars Science Laboratory's power system.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Museum of Clean opens in Pocatello

I find this more than a little ironic.

Last month, Pocatello was voted the “dirtiest city in America” by a Web site called Alice.com. The ranking was based on nationally compiled sales figures for stuff like Lysol, Tide, Tidy Bowl or whatever.

I questioned it then and on Friday, as if by magic, Pocatello’s Museum of Clean opened to the public.

Located in the old six-story Salt Lake Hardware building at 702 South First Avenue, in Pocatello's old warehouse district, the museum offers visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves in the history of housework, even back to Ancient Egypt. (It seems that neat freaks have always been with us, just not at my house.) The very first vacuums are on display, as well as an exhibit of toilet seats through the ages.

Five years in the making, the museum comes from the mind of Don Aslett, founder of Varsity Contractors, a veteran of more than 50 years in the cleaning business and the author of 40 books.

A self-described urinal colonel, porcelain preacher and king of the toilet ring, Aslett told local news reporters that the point of museum is “selling the value of clean."

"I think the word clean is more important than any word except for probably faith," he said. "And we're talking about the scope of it: clean water, clean air, clean sheets, clean floors; everything clean is beautiful.”


INL parent company gets airtime on NPR

Battelle Technology, parent company of Battelle Energy Alliance, the contractor for the Idaho National Laboratory, got a nice shout-out on National Public Radio this morning. For those of you who didn't hear it, here's a link:

Friday, November 18, 2011

Mangini's Take and Bake marks birthday, plans move

Saturday marks the second anniversary of Mangini's Take and Bake Pizza, with big changes planned in the next few months.
Mangini's Take and Bake owner Leo O'Ryan

Even though the price of cheese has been skyrocketing, Owner Leo O'Ryan said business has been good enough since they opened Nov. 19, 2009, that they are moving from 525 Second Street to a bigger location at 531 Lomax Avenue.

A sign is already at the new location, but O'Ryan said it could be late December before they move. "There are a lot of details that need to be taken care of," he said.

The new store will be almost double the size, and O'Ryan plans to gradually expand the menu to include pasta dishes. The biggest advantage of moving will be the traffic. Going by the city's traffic count, 6,500 cars will pass by on Lomax every day, and on North Holmes Avenue, where they will have a sign, the count is 7,000.

How many cars drive by the Second Street store? "Sixty, probably. I've never counted and don't think the city ever would," O'Ryan said.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ammon retail center moving forward

Work is proceeding on Comfort Construction's 11,000-square-foot retail strip center at 3379 E. 17th Street, next door to Ace Hardware. Developer Dean Mortimer has three tenants lined up, Domino’s Pizza, Subway and Salon Suites. The project is slated to be finished in May 2012.

Domino’s will own its own part of the building, while Subway will lease. Salon Suites, another one of Mortimer’s companies, leases beauty salon and massage therapy spaces to contractors who want to operate on their own.

By the numbers

In the interest of posting content on this blog every day, here's something that might be of interest to BizMojo Idaho readers.

We can speculate, opine, whine or whatever, but when it comes to development, numbers tell the story. These are the city of Idaho Falls' Jan.-Oct. building permit numbers for the past six years:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

No Trader Joe's anytime soon

A quick update on the "specialty grocery" news from yesterday, which hit like lightning and elicited quite a few comments on Facebook. We all love to ponder possibilities, and the most excitement seemed to be over whether Trader Joe's might be interested in locating here.

Before we go on, let me say that easy access to Two Buck Chuck would probably not be a good thing for me (although in its absence I have embraced Foxhorn Cabernet Sauvignon, which sells for $5.85 a 1.5 liter bottle at WinCo. It's Australian, with a screwtop, but I swear if you decanted it and served it at dinner your guests would rave about it. I recommend it highly for a "house red," if you're looking for one.)

Anyway, in the service of enquiring minds I called Trader Joe's headquarters in Monrovia, Calif., and spoke to Amy in customer service. She would not tell me her last name (company policy), but she did they me they eventually plan to come Idaho. Now for the bad news. It won't be anytime soon. "We're expanding into several states, but we do it a year-and-a-half at a time and (Idaho's) not on the list right now," she said.

Another possibility mentioned yesterday, at the other end of the spectrum, is Sav-a-Lot, more of a WinCo style store. One reader asked, "Why would they come when WinCo and Sam's Club are already here?" To which I answer, why do Lowe's and Home Depot more often than not build right next to each other?

Regardless of who's coming and when, the purpose of this blog is to stay on top of these things and build readership by encouraging endless speculation. So hang in there, readers.

Albiston named new EITC president

Steve Albiston will take over as president of Eastern Idaho Technical College at the beginning of 2012, replacing Burton Waite, who announced his retirement earlier this year.

The announcement came Wednesday afternoon, slightly more than a month after Albiston, EITC’s vice-president for instruction and student affairs, was named as one of five finalists for the job.

“We had a strong pool of applicants,” said EITC Presidential Search Committee Chair Emma Atchley of Ashton.

Other members of the search committee included:
Christian Godfrey -- faculty representative, EITC
Ken Erickson -- workforce development/staff representative EITC
Sharon Parry -- Idaho Falls City Council, former school board member District 91
Lyle Castle -- Dean, Idaho State University, University Place, Idaho Falls
Bobbi Crosser -- Director, Professional-Technical Education Programs, District 93
Daniel Turner -- Student Body President, EITC
Jeff Thompson -- Idaho State Legislature, District 33
Michael Clark -- EITC Advisory Board, INL
Vera McCrink -- Deputy Administrator, State of Idaho Division of Professional-Technical Education

All I Want for Christmas ...

Great article about the late Steve Jobs featuring some amusing and appalling anecdotes from the new biography by Walter Isaacson. I would like to read this, and I would like to read it as a book, not on an iPad, Kindle or Nook. I would like a New Yorker subscription, too, come to think of it.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

'Specialty grocery' store eyeing Idaho Falls

Brad Cramer of the Idaho Falls Planning Department wishes he had more to tell, but the most interesting call he has received recently was concerning a “specialty grocery” looking for a site to build a store upwards of 60,000 square feet. No names was given, so go ahead and speculate to your heart’s content.

In terms of valuation, commercial building permits in Idaho Falls through the end of October were roughly the same this year as they were the first 10 months of 2010, said Cramer, the city’s assistant planner. In fact, this year there was $24.41 million on the books compared to $24.16 in 2010. But the numbers this year reflect the big INL projects going up on the north side. Without them, things would be anemic indeed.

Cramer will be speaking Monday to the Mortgage Bankers Association, people who, for obvious reasons, have a keen interest in seeing new development. In his position, he is often the first to know what may be in the works. “(Developers) want to meet with me to figure out what they need to submit to get something started,” he said.

Other than the cryptic grocery call, the big news remains Carl’s Jr. on 17th Street and North Yellowstone and the Marriott on the river. Regarding the latter, “They’re saying it will be done the first part of April, but I think May is more realistic,” Cramer said.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Turkey Box drive grows each year

When it comes helping out people in need this time of year, I don't think anyone can accuse Idaho Falls of being stingy.

Whether it's the Goodfellow Fund, which has been around since the 1930s, or Coats for Kids, the community has an admirable record of coming through.

With Thanksgiving a week from Thursday, this is the week for people to put together Turkey Boxes. Kelly Marshall, who has been managing the drive for the past seven years, estimated Sunday that 373 boxes would be going out to families next week, but there could be more.

Still based out of St. Luke's Episcopal Church (which also sponsors the Idaho Falls Soup Kitchen), the Turkey Box drive, in its 12th year, now has a score of churches, schools and businesses involved.

"I think it's something people can relate to because everyone needs food," Marshall said. "The Angel Tree is wonderful, but it's hard sometimes to figure out what presents to buy for kids. But if a family needs Thanksgiving dinner, it's easy to put a box together for them."

She estimated that more than 200 boxes will be going to families identified by counselors in Idaho Falls School District 91. In Bonneville School District 93, her count on Sunday was 118. More boxes are being reserved for call-ins -- people who call the St. Luke's office to give the names of people in need, sometimes themselves.

Those who have taken boxes to fill themselves need to bring them to St. Luke's this week. Anyone who wants to make a cash donation is welcome, because there are always boxes to be filled.

For the second time, the distribution will be Monday night (Nov. 21), with drivers picking up boxes in the alley behind St. Luke's. Last year this turned out to be a godsend, because a storm early Tuesday made the roads impassable and Wednesday would have been too late.

Businesses helping out with the Turkey Box Drive include Ball Packing (cold storage), Boise Cascade (boxes) and Blacker's (which for several years has donated freezers for the turkeys and pies.

If you need a box or know someone, call St. Luke's, 522-8465.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Friday, November 11, 2011

EITC seeks donations of pasta, sauce for food bank

Who doesn't get tired of turkey, ham and green bean casserole? How about some spaghetti carbonara to bring some variety to the season?

Joining the effort to eliminate hunger in the community, the Student Senate of Eastern Idaho Technical College kicked off “Pedro’s Pasta Push” on Nov. 4.
Pedro, EITC's falcon mascot (and you are excused for not knowing EITC has a mascot; I didn't), and his friends are asking members of the community to help provide a warm meal to those in need by donating boxes of spaghetti noodles and cans of pasta sauce. All items will be donated to the Idaho Falls Community Food Bank for distribution throughout the area.

Those who would like to donate may bring their items to the John E. Christofferson building at EITC before Nov. 23rd. If you are a business that would like to assist by becoming a drop-off location, please contact Michelle Ziel at 524-0464 or michelle.ziel@my.eitc.edu.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Old church becomes center for weddings, receptions, events

The historic Annis Church House on the Menan-Lorenzo Highway has received a major renovation and a new lease on life as the Sereno Event Center.

Owner Anna Ball chose the property as a restoration opportunity where she could present guests a place that evokes the warm and inviting elegance of old-world Tuscany. She is offering Sereno for weddings, receptions, company parties and recitals. There are both indoor and outdoor options for year-round events.

A grand opening this month will include an open house with full access to the restored building and grounds. All are invited, Nov. 18 from 5 to 9 p.m. and Nov. 19 from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The facility has the capacity to seat 295 people. There has been extensive renovation work done to the building and grounds, including updated lighting, walls, flooring, and furnishings.

“We wanted to preserve the historical feel of the building while improving overall accessibility and efficiency,“ Ball said. “We had an opportunity to adapt the church in a way that retains its original beauty, but makes it useful for the long term.”

The chapel’s new walls and floor are lighted with updated, wrought-iron fixtures and a built-in walkway that creates an intimate setting for the most special of days. The cultural hall received new, stained tongue-and-groove pine walls and draperies for both visual appeal and sound control. The stage was also saved, allowing for productions and concerts.

The old Annis Church Building on the Lorenzo-Menan Highway
has been renovated to become the Sereno Event Center.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Building a bridge to the 20th century

I talk about simplifying my life and cutting back on expenses, telling myself how easy it would be, but when put to the test I am as big a wimp as anyone.

In July, when my Droid phone was on the fritz (which is to say about a month after the warranty expired), I discovered I had the opportunity to exchange it at the store. I had a choice: a new Samsung smart phone with all the latest apps or a $39 flip phone that would allow me to call and text. In addition to costing less, the flip phone would have saved me $30 a month and marked me as an old school iconoclast. I chose the Samsung, loathing myself as I signed the contract yet feeling helpless to do anything about it.

If I can't do something as simple as trade down on a cell phone, do I have the guts to get my house in order? And if I don't, what does that say about my generation and the future of this country?

I think back to the lifestyle my parents had when I was growing up in the 1960s. We lived in the suburbs, in a three-bedroom house with one bathroom. We had one car. We had one TV, a black-and-white GE set that was in my bedroom the day John Kennedy was killed (I was home sick from school).

My dad, a teacher, carpooled to work three days a week. On the days he drove, my mom stayed home. My mom packed his lunch, as well as my sister's and my own. If my folks had a charge card, it was probably for John Wanamaker or Strawbridge & Clothier, and I would guess the credit limit was with $100. I have no doubt it was paid off in full anytime there might have been a balance at the end of the month.

Although we got the paper, we didn't get Time, Life, Look or Newsweek. I read those at the neighbor's house down the street or at my grandparents'.

We hold those times times up as idyllic, but I wonder how many of us would choose to live that way today? I have considered the notion of dialing my lifestyle and expectations back to 1968 and keeping a diary. It might be an interesting blog, but I'd have to type my posts on my old manual Olympia typewriter and mail them to the 21st century.

Given my smart phone experience, I doubt I have the nerve.

Dave Menser, a teacher who carpooled and brown-bagged his lunch every workday for more than 30 years.

Brothers join I.F. Wells Fargo Private Client office

David and Dale Green have joined the Idaho Falls office of Wells Fargo Private Client Services. The brothers come from Key Investment Services, and have a combined experience of 30-plus years as financial advisers.

They have brought with them their registered sales associate, Lorraine Day, and their financial adviser partner, Melissa Browning.

They can be reached at (208) 533-6112.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

What is to become of the small ski hills?

What is to become of "mom-and-pop" ski hills like Kelly Canyon? Everybody is scratching their heads over the owners' decision this year to close the hill on Sunday. I haven't talked to them, but I thought about this while reading a story today in the New York Times on Snow King in Jackson, Wyo. (A link is posted below.)

Once again, we seem to be in the position of losing something we love but don't have enough desire to save. I think about where so many people of my generation, including my wife, learned to ski -- Pine Basin -- and the KIFI Ski School, which sent buses there. Started by men who'd learned to ski in World War II, the ski school gave thousands of kids the opportunity to learn a lifetime sport at very little cost.


Nine or 10 years ago, I'd been to Kelly Canyon with my son, Bill, on a Sunday afternoon after church. I'd noticed on the map that the vertical relief at Kelly was 975 feet. No great shakes compared to Jackson Hole, Sun Valley or even Grand Targhee, right?

Everything is relative. I grew up in Delaware, the second flattest state in the nation (Florida is first), and remember going to the Poconos to ski. Of all the resorts in eastern Pennsylvania, there was one revered above all others: Camelback.

Out of curiosity, the day after our Kelly trip I called Camelback  to ask how tall their mountain is. The answer was 800 feet. Yes, the hill that students from Brandywine High School would ride four-and-a-half hours on a bus to ski is smaller than one a half-hour from my home in Idaho Falls.

The economics of ski resorts today are more about real estate than they are about recreation, which for all its glamor is essentially an expensive add-on. I was interested to see the Times article put Grand Targhee in the same class as Jackson Hole, because I think it occupies a no-man's land between hills like Kelly and the bigger resorts.

It's easy to say we need to put our money where our mouth is if we want to save one of the things that has made living in the West such a great thing. But the day could be coming, and soon.

Jackson, Wyo., with Snow King in the background (Photo
David Swift for The New York Times)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

INL Space Center chief travels to NYC

The Idaho National Laboratory's Dr. Steven D. Howe went to New York City in late October as one of five finalists for the World Technology Awards in the Space category.

The award went to Gwynne Shotwell, president of a company called Space X, but Howe, director of the Center for Space Nuclear Research, wasn't going with inflated expectations. He told KPVI-TV earlier in October that he was honored to be going at all. "(The) co-finalists are pretty big names and have major accomplishments. So I think I'm the runt of the litter on this group," he said.

Howe has been director of the center since 2005. Before that, he part of the Thermonuclear Applications group of the Applied Physics Division at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. His research interests include antiproton physics and applications, nuclear rocket propulsion, hyper-velocity aerodynamics and thermodynamics, and non-equilibrium X-ray emission. He also writes fiction. His novella "Wrench and Claw" appeared in Analog Magazine and his novel "Honor Bound Honor Born" is about the possible development of the first commercial base on the Moon.

Howe has appeared on numerous television programs about space and rocketry. He holds five patents involving the storage and application of anti-protons, and he is the co-founder of Hbar Technologies.

If you would like to view his presentation at the World Technology Awards, this is the link:

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pocatello the dirtiest?

I heard on the Today Show this morning that Pocatello had been rated "the dirtiest city in America." Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda were yukking it up, reporting the name as "Pocatello, Indiana" (which ought to tell you a lot).

Though I've lived in Idaho Falls for nearly 30 years, I'm partial enough to Pocatello to have taken umbrage at this. Turns out the rating comes for a site called www.alice.com, and the numbers were based on the amount of money spent on cleaning products such as Tide, Lysol, Cascade, etc.

Knoxville, Tenn., came in first with a grand total of $66.95. Pocatello came in last with a measly $9.88.

It doesn't take an M.B.A. to spot the hole in this. The only numbers registering in such a survey are the brand name products being scanned at the supermarket, with the information going straight to the national database that keeps track of every Slim Jim and roll of toilet paper you buy.

But Pocatello, dirty? This is the home of Don Aslett, who has made a fortune selling cleaning products and telling people how to keep their homes clean. I tried to reach Aslett on Thursday but couldn't (no surprise), but I managed to speak to Jared Sampson, a customer service rep at Don Aslett's Cleaning Center.

"That's absolutely ridiculous," he said. Upon reflection, we both decided the number might have been skewed for any number of reasons.  "Everyone I know around here does not buy name brand cleaning products," he said.

Pure Wood moving to 17th Street

If you're looking for unfinished furniture, Pure Wood is a store in Idaho Falls you want to visit, but if you're looking for Pure Wood the business has moved.

After 11 years on Skyline Drive, owners Gary and Barbara Gautier have moved back to 17th Street, where they started in the late '90s. They are hopeful that the new location in the Teton Plaza, 2135 E. 17th St., will serve them and their customers better.

The Gautiers stock solidly made furniture made of alder, birch, maple, cherry and pine -- chairs, dresserass, desks, bookcases, tables, cabinets and bedroom sets. They also carry a full selection of wood finishes and stains. Most importantly, if you've never done anything like this before, they have the expertise and knowledge to help you get the job done right.

Their Web address is: http://www.purewoodunfinishedfurniture.com/

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Coffee shop opens in Mountain View Hospital

The world of coffee suits Jen Brooks, who is now managing Higher Grounds, the new coffee shop in Mountain View Hospital.

The coffee shop opened to hospital employees Oct. 24 and to the public on Monday. Brooks, who worked at The Villa Coffeehouse in downtown Idaho Falls for three years, heard about the opportunity over the summer and jumped at the chance to be running her own shop.

Higher Grounds serves locally roasted coffee by Steve and Harry’s, muffins from Perkins, and cupcakes from Love at First Bite. They plan to be serving soup and paninis from Bella Vita in Snake River Landing. Customers are welcome to get what they like and enjoy it in the hospital lobby.

Brooks said she is excited by the reception Higher Grounds has gotten. Mochas are selling particularly well.

“We’ve hooked most of the employees, because we’re here and our prices are lower than Starbuck’s and Java,” she said.

Jen Brooks, manager of the Higher Ground coffee shop in Mountain View Hospital

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Developer lines up Domino's, Subway for retail center

Compared to a few years ago, business construction in Ammon has slowed to a crawl, but to hear Dean Mortimer talk one would think the sun is beginning to shine again.

Mortimer’s company, Comfort Construction, is building an 11,000-square-foot retail strip center at 3379 E. 17th Street, next door to Ace Hardware. His other company, Command Properties, has three tenants lined up for it: Domino’s Pizza, Subway and Salon Suites.

“What gave us the confidence to move forward was good solid tenants,” Mortimer said. He added that he’s seen quality retail space filling up in the past 12 months. The project is slated to be finished in May 2012.

Domino’s will own its own part of the building, while Subway will lease. Salon Suites, another one of Mortimer’s companies, leases beauty salon and massage therapy spaces to contractors who want to operate on their own.

Pointing to the Idaho Falls Labor Market Area’s September unemployment rate of 7 percent -- 2 percent below the statewide average -- Mortimer said he is optimistic about the local economy.

“The businesses we have are somewhat recession-proof,” he said. “We have the Idaho National Lab, Melaleuca’s a strong employer and agricultural prices are doing really well. Compared to some other places, we have a diversified economy.”