Friday, August 28, 2015

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen coming to Sandcreek Commons

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen will be coming to Ammon, most likely by December.
As part of a six-restaurant expansion into Idaho, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen will be coming to the Sandcreek Commons Shopping Center.

The plan is for the restaurant to be open by December, said Sandy Mann of Norcal Cajun Foods, the company in Concord, Calif., that has the rights to franchise Popeyes in Idaho. The restaurant will face Sunnyside Road, between Zions Bank and D.L. Evans Bank.

Norcal has opened Popeyes in Nampa and Caldwell and is preparing to open one in Boise. In addition to Ammon, it also has plans for Pocatello and Twin Falls. The company has 17 Popeyes in Northern California.

Popeyes dates back to 1972, when Alvin C. Copeland, Sr. opened a restaurant called Chicken on the Run in the New Orleans suburb of Arabi, serving traditional Southern fried chicken. After several months of mediocre sales, he changed the menu to spicy, New Orleans-style chicken and renamed the restaurant Popeyes, after the character Popeye Doyle in the movie “The French Connection.”

The menu features Cajun-style fried chicken and seafood that is typically served with buttermilk biscuits and a variety of sides, including Cajun rice, coleslaw, mashed potatoes, or french fries.

Today, there are more than 2,000 Popeyes in the United States and 25 foreign countries. Only 40 Popeyes locations are company-owned, according to the business profile on Hoovers.com.

Popeyes reported coming to area, the question is where?

Here's a box of Popeye's Wicked Chicken. It looks scrumptious!
I’ve always had fun playing detective, but this is a story in which you may have to draw your own conclusions — at least for now.

Making my rounds at the city of Ammon office Thursday, I asked City Planner Ron Folsom, whether there was anything new, especially at Sandcreek Commons, a widespread spot of interest. He told me about the site plan for “Pad E,” the lot on Sunnyside Road between two banks, D.L. Evans and Zions.

No business has been designated for the pad, but judging by the shape of the building and the fact that there is a drive-thru lane going around it, one might deduce that it is going to be a fast-food establishment.

I know better than to ask the developers, Ball Ventures and Woodbury Corp., what is being planned for the ground. It’s their policy to let the business owners make announcements.

Early Thursday evening, I got an e-mail from one of my most reliable news sniffers, Gary Mills, who runs the testing center at Eastern Idaho Technical College. Attached was a link to a TV story out of Twin Falls about Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen coming there.

This is the link: Famous fried chicken restaurant making its way to the Magic Valley.

“The television story says that Pocatello and Idaho Falls are next.  Where?” he asked.

If I were a Magic 8 Ball, I might answer, “Signs point to Sandcreek Commons.” As it stands, I am waiting for an answer from Norcal Cajun Foods, the Bay Area company quoted in the story, which has already opened Popeyes in Boise and Nampa.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

EITC Foundation nominated for nonprofit award

The Eastern Idaho Technical College Foundation has been nominated for the Idaho Nonprofit Center’s Excellence Award.  

“We know that nonprofits make a difference in communities across Idaho every day and these awards recognize the contribution of the nonprofit sector.” said Janice Fulkerson, the center’s executive director.

EITC Foundation is one of nearly 100 organizations nominated. Six of the organizations will be honored at the Nonprofit Excellence Awards Dinner on Sept. 15 during the center’s annual conference at Boise State University.

The EITC Foundation was established in 1992 to develop positive community relationships, provide scholarship opportunities and support college initiatives.  Earlier this year the awarded nearly $200,000 in scholarships at its annual scholarship ceremony. Its most recent fund-raiser, The Great Race for Education, raised over $45,000 for scholarships.

“This community is the only reason we are successful.” said Natalie Hebard, the foundation’s executive director. “We are also extremely fortunate to have 19 wonderful volunteer board directors with a passion for education and helping student achieve their academic goals.”

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Majestic Auto Body receives certification

Majestic Auto Body and Glass, 1456 N. 25th East, has been officially certified by Assured Performance, a non-profit consumer advocacy organization specializing in the automotive collision repair market.

Assured Performance works with top automakers to identify, audit and promote collision repair providers that meet best-in-class business standards — maintaining the right tools, equipment, training, and facility necessary to repair Automaker brand vehicles according to the manufacturer's specifications.

In achieving this certification, Majestic becomes part of a worldwide network. According to a press release, less than 5 percent of body shops across the nation are able to meet the stringent requirements to become officially certified and recognized. In Idaho Falls, Dan’s Collision Repair is the only other body shop with the certification.

Majestic is also officially recognized by GM, FCA, Ford, and Nissan.

Advertising Federation plans summer mixer

The Idaho Falls Advertising Federation club mixer will be held on Thursday from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Keefer's Island Patio, at the Shilo Inn.

Club members, sales managers, art directors and marketing directors are invited. There will be free appetizers and door prizes.  A drawing for several Eastern Idaho State Fair concert tickets will be held at 6 pm.

Discounted club memberships will be available. Call 569-9468 for more information.

Cellar plans celebration this weekend

At the corner of 17th Street and Ammon Road, The Cellar has been under new management since the beginning of this year.
Under new management since the beginning of the year, The Cellar, 3520 E. 17th St., will be having a celebration Friday and Saturday featuring small plate specials, live music, wine tasting, free desserts and appetizers. Doors open at 5 p.m. each evening.

“I am very excited to have both old and new customers alike come in and try out our new menu, new specials and get reacquainted with some of their old favorites,” said Bryan Hewett, the new owner. “I would like to see The Cellar become the locals’ favorite place to go for all occasions, from just a night out to celebrating new marriages, birthdays and more.”

Scott Hinschberger’s vision for The Cellar dates back to the late 1980s, but it wasn’t until 2004 that he opened it with his son, Bryan Hinschberger.

In January this year, Hinschberger sold the restaurant to Hewett, a Treasure Valley native who discovered a passion for food at a young age. He attended Boise State University where he obtained his degree in culinary arts.

The Cellar seats over 100 people, and can provide banquet and catering services for weddings, receptions, parties, and nearly any celebration of life. Hewett and his staff can cater any event within a 200 mile radius.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

New Idaho National Laboratory director named

Mark Peters, formerly Argonne National Laboratory's associate director for energy and global security, has been named the next director of the Idaho National Laboratory, officially taking over Oct. 1.

Mark Peters
He will be succeeding John Grossenbacher, who announced in November 2014 that this would be his last year as INL director. Grossenbacher coordinated the Battelle Energy Alliance bid that resulted in BEA being awarded the INL contract in February 2005.

“Mark’s recognized leadership in all fields of energy research — including energy storage, renewable energy, energy efficiency  and nuclear energy — and national security makes him an ideal choice as the next lab director of INL,” said Ron Townsend, chairman of BEA’s board of managers and also its executive vice president of global laboratory operations. “As the leading research institution for nuclear energy solutions, other clean energy options and critical infrastructure, INL will benefit from the strong leadership and passionate commitment that Mark has demonstrated throughout his career.”

Peters is called upon frequently to provide expert testimony to Congress and to advise in formulation of policies for nuclear fuel cycles, nonproliferation and nuclear waste disposal. He is active in leadership positions with the American Nuclear Society and was recently named an ANS Fellow, the highest honor bestowed by the Society.

“I’ve had the opportunity to work with Mark on globally significant nuclear energy matters and am pleased to welcome him to Idaho,” said John Kotek, the U.S. Department of Energy’s assistant secretary for nuclear energy. “I look forward to our continued collaboration when he is in his new role as director of INL.”

Peters earned his doctorate in geophysical sciences from the University of Chicago and his bachelor's degree in geology from Auburn University. He has also received extensive management and leadership education and training, including completion of the Strategic Laboratory Leadership Program at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. His full biography is available online at https://www.inl.gov/mark-peters-bio.

Sandy Downs racing season opens Saturday

The racing season at Sandy Downs will be five days this year,
Aug. 22, 23, 29 and 30 and Sept. 13.
Although the legality of historical racing machines is likely to be an issue again at the 2016 Idaho Legislature, they money they have brought in at the Double Down sports bar on Outlet Boulevard has led to a doubling of purse money during the five-day racing season at Sandy Downs, which starts Saturday.

Racing will be conducted Saturday and Sunday this weekend and next, and on Sept. 13. Gates open Saturdays at 4 p.m. with post time for the first race at 5 p.m.  Sunday’s first race will be at 1 p.m., with gates opening at noon.

The opening day card is highlighted by the Hawthorne Futurity trials for 2-year-old quarter horses.  The race series carries a prize estimated at $45,000, the largest seen in Ida Racing’s six years at Sandy Downs.

Saturday’s co-feature will be the trials for the $30,000 (est.) Double Down Derby for 3-year-old quarter horses with its final also on Sept.  For novice fans, the Nationally acclaimed Q-Aces team of handicappers and racing experts will be on hand with free seminars on both days of the opening weekend.

The leading horses, owners, trainers and jockeys in the Northwest are expected to be in action at Sandy Downs. “The effects of historical racing are even allowing us to become a national player in our sport,” said Ida Racing President Jim Bernard. Fans across the country can watch and wager on our races via the IdaBet.com racing site, he said.

Entertainment between races will include mechanical bull rides, a free photo booth, live music and games and prizes from the daily live Colt Whitmore Show.  Kids can enjoy the fun bounce and sprinkler party, and a country barbecue and fair-style food will be available from Lucky’s Grill.

A salute to Armed Forces and Veterans will open each racing day.  Business sponsors and supporters this year include Bingham Memorial Hospital, Coors Light and TEC Distributors, Double Down Betting Bar, IdaBet.com, Sand Hill Radio, The Post Register, Giltner Trucking and Hawthorne Animal Hospital.

Sandy Downs is located at 6855 S. 15 East.  For more information and updates, visit www.IdaRacing.com.

Double Down, 3078 Outlet Blvd., will also offer live coverage of the races and wagering, at  in Idaho Falls.  Visit IdahoFallsSportsBar.com or call (208) 521-4729 for more details.

Some background on historical racing machines in Idaho

Pari-mutuel betting on horses in Idaho has been legal since 1963, and the Legislature authorized simulcasting in 1990. Before July 2011, however, simulcasting was only allowed at live horse racing facilities such as Sandy Downs in Bonneville County. In 2011, however, the Legislature passed a bill allowing simulcast horse betting from other venues, supporters arguing that off-track locations could provide a better atmosphere, food and other incentives to attract paying customers. The 2011 bill did not allow new simulcast betting venues to be set up, but instead allowed existing operations like the one at Sandy Downs to move.

In 2014 the Legislature approved HB220, allowing pari-mutuel betting on historical horse races, which is done on machines. When a player makes a wager on the machine, a race is randomly selected from a video library of over 60,000 previous races. Identifying information such as the location and date of the race, and the names of the horses and jockeys, is not shown.

The player is able to view a "Skill Graph" chart from the Daily Racing Form, showing information such as jockeys' and trainers' winning percentages, and based on this handicapping information the player picks the projected top three runners in order of finish. Many players use a “Handi Helper" feature, which allows the machine to automatically make the selections.

Early versions of the terminals looked like self-serve wagering terminals, but over time some began to mimic slot machines, with symbols on spinning reels showing the results of a player's wager and the video of the actual race relegated to a 2-inch square in the corner of the screen.

In Idaho, this has drawn the ire of anti-gambling forces and also Native American tribes who consider the machines competition to what they offer on their reservation casinos. Earlier this year, Senate Bill 1011 repealed the Legislature's prior approval of the devices, passing the House by a 49-21 vote and the Senate 25-9.

Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter vetoed the bill in April, and the Senate’s 19-16 subsequent vote to override the veto fell five votes short. Otter has called for a moratorium on any new instant racing machines and indicated that he wants a special investigative team to look into whether the machines violate the Idaho Constitution, which prohibits slot machines.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Idaho Falls Camping World grand opening set for Friday

Camping World, the nation’s largest RV and outdoor retailer, and Good Sam, the world’s largest RV owners organization, have set Friday and Saturday as the date for the grand opening of their Idaho Falls SuperCenter at 1355 Tara Street, on the west side of the Pancheri overpass.

The location is part of a dealer network with more than 100 U.S. locations, including Boise and Salt Lake City. In the case of Camping World of Idaho Falls, the facility is a relocation of the OK Trailer RV dealership in Shelley, which Camping World bought in the fall of 2014.

“The Idaho Falls market is an ideal area for us to expand our business offering,” said Marcus Lemonis, CEO and chairman of Camping World and Good Sam, also the host of CNBC’s The Profit. The grand opening celebration will feature a ribbon cutting Friday at 11 a.m. There will be price specials, door prizes and a live radio remote Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m. with KLCE 97.3 FM.

Additionally, free lunch will be offered Saturday and Aug. 29, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

For more information about Camping World of Idaho Falls, visit www.campingworldofidahofalls.com.

Alaskan power company joins INL-based geothermal consortium

The Idaho National Laboratory announced today that Chena Power, an Alaska-based company, has officially joined the Snake River Geothermal Consortium team. The company is the first technical partner from outside the Lower 48 and joins 17 other national laboratories, universities and industry partners.

The consortium is one of five teams that received funding in April from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy  to pursue the development of geothermal energy. It is led by Robert Podgorney, who has had a longtime fascination with geothermal and heads INL’s Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy, or FORGE.

What he is hoping to see by 2018 is deep drilling on the Snake River Plain southwest of Howe. The consortium is proposing to locate the nation’s first Enhanced Geothermal System test site on the western edge of the INL, in a renowned “hot spot” that is already home to the lab’s 40-square-mile Geothermal Resource Research Area.

The idea is to have one well pumping water into the crust of the Earth 8,000 to 12,000 feet deep, then push it horizontally through fractures in the subsurface rock, heating it to around 175 degrees Celsius, then bringing the hot water back to the surface to produce energy. Podgorney said he believes FORGE has the potential to generate large amounts of carbon-free baseload power, perhaps revolutionizing energy production worldwide.

The money awarded in April — $400,000 to Podgorney’s consortium — is for Phase 1. Two teams will be eliminated before $27 million is awarded in Phase 2. Podgorney is optimistic that the consortium he has assembled will make the cut, which will be announced in June 2016.

“The practical experience that Chena brings to the team will be instrumental if our team is selected to move into Phase 2,” he said. “We need the kind of ingenuity that has gone into developing the power plant in Alaska, especially when it comes to demonstrating power generation at the later stages of FORGE.”

Chena Power’s announcement came at the Tenth Annual Renewable Energy Fair. Among those at the announcement were Alaska Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan.

Other participants in the consortium include the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; the Center for Advanced Energy Studies, which incorporates people from Idaho State University, Boise State University, the University of Idaho and the University of Wyoming; the University of Oklahoma and University of Utah; Mink GeoHydro and Baker Hughes.

An advisory panel has also been established to keep in touch with regulatory agencies and non-governmental organizations like the Idaho Conservation League and Snake River Alliance.

On social media, you can follow the FORGE team by searching #SnakeRiverFORGE and #FORGE. Follow @INL and @CAESEnergy on Twitter or visit our Facebook pages at www.facebook.com/IdahoNationalLaboratory and www.facebook.com/CenterforAdvancedEnergyStudies.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Hospice of Eastern Idaho opening in-patient home in Ammon

Hospice of Eastern Idaho is having a ribbon cutting and open house Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 2  p.m. at its new six-bed in-patient hospice home at 1087 Curlew Drive.

The home, only one of two in Idaho, will be opening its doors to patients around the second week of September.

Hospice of Eastern Idaho, the only non-profit hospice agency in the area, has been providing care to the terminally ill and their families since 2000. The organization is Medicare and Medicaid Certified and belongs to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

As a 501(c)(3) non-profit agency, it provides care regardless of ability to pay. It serves a five-county area providing care anywhere the patient resides: home, assisted living or skilled nursing facility.

For more information, contact Executive Director Celeste Eld at 529-0342.

Home2 by Hilton owners shooting for Sept. 8 opening

Work on the pool at the Home2 by Hilton at Snake River Landing. 
The Home2 by Hilton hotel at Snake River Landing is scheduled to open Sept. 8, according to Rusty Townsend, president and CEO of B&T Hospitality Management, the company that also owns Hilton Garden Inn.

Headwaters Construction, the contractor on the 91-room hotel, has met all its deadlines, he said. Work on the pool is being finished, said Larry Wolf, another B&T officer.

The pool is unique to the Home2 by Hilton chain in that the purification system is saline-based instead of chlorine-based. “It’s a much greener alternative,” Wolf said.

The four-story, 94,425-square-foot hotel is located at the corner of Snake River Parkway and Whitewater Drive. There is parking for 112 vehicles.

Townsend said B&T’s original plan was to build the hotel next door to Hilton Garden Inn, but as Snake River Landing began to take shape they opted for the location. Since his partner in B&T is Ball Ventures, Snake River Landing’s developer, it wasn’t hard to change.

“We like it here with all the walking and all the restaurants,” Townsend said.

He said he is very optimistic about the business prospects for Idaho Falls hotels. Tour buses on their way to Yellowstone National Park have been pulling in to the Hilton Garden Inn every night. "We have had the best three consecutive months we've ever had," he said.

Launched in 2009, Home2 is the first new brand introduced by Hilton Worldwide in 20 years. The focus is for customers who are planning for an extended stay, so the suites include kitchenettes  and flexible working space between the living room and bedroom areas. The patio area adjacent to the pool features three gas barbecue grills. If you burn your steak, Stockman’s restaurant is next door.

Townsend said they are planning on a ribbon cutting and grand opening in October.
The kitchenette in one of the rooms.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Business basics workshop set Aug. 27

Irene Gonzalez
The Small Business Development Center and SCORE are sponsoring a free Business Basics Workshop Aug. 27, from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the Idaho Innovation Center, 2300 North Yellowstone Highway in Idaho Falls.

The workshop will feature a presentation by Irene Gonzalez of the Boise office of the Small Business Administration, who will talk about how to use your research to build your business plan and the importance of starting your business with a sturdy foundation.

Topics she covers include self-evaluation, available resources, choosing a legal structure, building a business plan, preparing for a lender, and marketing.

Anyone interested in attending needs to RSVP Gary Johnsen at gwjohnsen@gmail.com.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Warner Truck Centers building $8 million dealership south of Idaho Falls

Warner Truck Centers of Salt Lake City, is moving forward on an $8 million Freightliner Truck dealership in Bonneville County, on 12.73 acres of land near Interstate 15 Exit 113.
The plans, filed in late July, call for a 55,106-square-foot truck sales and repair area, with a 10,000-square-foot mezzanine. It project is located at the corner of 65th South and Doug Andrus Drive. The contractor on the project is Zwick Construction of Midvale, Utah.

The company has been in operation since 1983. The Idaho Falls dealership will be its fifth. Its other Idaho dealership is in Jerome and another is planned for Caldwell. In Utah, the company is in Salt Lake, Salina and Hurricane. Overall, it employs close to 480 people.

As a certified Freightliner, Western Star, and Sterling dealership the company provides parts and service for both heavy and light duty vehicles, body and paint work and fleet management.

For more about the company, follow this link to a 2013 story that ran in the Salt Lake Tribune: Utah's Warner Truck Center keeps the big rigs moving.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Voigt Davis becomes affiliated with national real estate network

Voigt Davis, a longtime Idaho Falls real estate agency, has joined the Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate network. The company will remain under the leadership of owner John Tanner, broker Patricia Davis and partner Brian Thompson, who hope to benefit from the marketing resources the affiliation brings.

In a press release, Tanner was quoted as saying it was important to align the agency, which has been in the community nearly 30 years, with a national brand name. The Better Homes and Gardens network brings digital tools and strategies that Voigt Davis hasn’t had before. “We are certain that the newfound technology proficiency and overall support will bring us to the next level of success,” he said.
Headquartered in Madison, N.J., the Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate network has roughly 280 franchise agencies in 28 states, the District of Columbia and Canada, with 9,100 sales associates. Voigt Davis is the second franchisee in Idaho.

Vendors sought for 'Boo at the Zoo'

The festive lights last year at "Boo at the Zoo."
Summer will be with us another month, but the days are getting shorter, back to school sales are happening and the Tautphaus Park Zoological Society is once again seeking vendors to participate in “Boo at the Zoo,” Oct. 28, 29 & 30.

Now in its 15th year, “Boo at the Zoo” is a “merry, not scary,” family-friendly Halloween event that attracts more than 10,000 guests. One popular element is the trick-or-treat stations throughout the zoo, sponsored by local businesses and organizations.

The event also features more than 500,000 lights, dozens of inflatable decorations, nightly costume contests, crafts and games. Depending on sponsorship levels, vendor promotions include radio, website, social media and print. Vendors will also be listed in the zoo’s Animal Challenge Newsletter,  which reaches more than 1,300 members.

Vendor fees are $100 for businesses, $50 for non-profits. Booth space is limited, so haste is advised. All proceeds, after expenses, are donated to the Idaho Falls Zoo.

For more information about the event, visit the zoo online — Tauthphaus Park Zoo — or contact Laurie Gravatt at (208) 612-8421 or tpzs@cableone.net.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Panera Bread plans bakery-cafe in Idaho Falls

An artist's rendering of what the remodeled property might look like.
Panera Bread, a national chain of bakery-cafes, has filed paperwork with the city of Idaho Falls indicating it plans to open in part of the vacant CD World building on Hitt Road.

The papers, filed with the Idaho Falls Building Department in late July, represent the first step in the process. The real estate broker, Mark Bottles Real Estate Services of Boise, is still looking for a tenant to lease space on the north end of the 8,970-square foot building, at 2820 S. 25 East.

As of June 30, Panera Bread had 1,926 bakery-cafes in the United States and Canada, operating under the Panera Bread, Saint Louis Bread Co. and Paradise Bakery & Café names. Going by the company’s Web site, this will be the first Panera Bread between Fort Collins, Colo., and the Boise area. The company’s development strategy calls for franchisees to open a number of units, typically 15 bakery-cafes over a period of 6 years. They must have a proven track record as restaurant operators, net worth of $7.5 million and liquid assets of $3 million.

Panera Bread began on the East Coast in 1981 as Au Bon Pain Co. In 1993, Au Bon Pain purchased Saint Louis Bread Company, a chain of 20 bakery-cafes located in the St. Louis area. In 1999, all of Au Bon Pain's business units were sold except for Panera Bread, and the company was renamed Panera Bread.

In 2007, Panera Bread purchased a majority stake in Paradise Bakery & Café, a Phoenix-based company with more than 70 locations in 10 states, mainly in the west and southwest). The Company purchased the balance of Paradise in June 2009. Since then, it has reach a market capitalization of $4.5 billion. Panera Bread has been recognized as one of Business Week's "100 Hot Growth Companies" and the Wall Street Journal's Shareholder Scorecard in 2006 named it the top performer in the restaurant category for one-, five- and ten-year returns to shareholders.

Construction Solutions files plans for new headquarters

Construction Solutions Co. has filed plans for a new building in Ammon, at the corner of 14th North and Terrill Drive.

Operating from an office on McNeil Drive, the company has been active in the area for more than three years. “We just thought it was time to move into our own building,” said Jared Turner, who is partners with Eric Wall and Jim Turner in the company.

Turner said business has been growing for the company. They built the new D.L. Evans Bank at Sandcreek Commons in Ammon, and did remodels for Apple Athletic Club and McAffee Security at Snake River Landing. On the restaurant side, they built the Carl’s Jr. restaurants in Idaho Falls, the Noodles and Co. shell on Hitt Road and have been involved with NPC International, which operates over 1,250 Pizza Hut units in 28 states.

They plan to break ground on the new building in the next few weeks and have it done by early 2016. Located on 1.4 acres, it will be 8,050 square feet and divided into four sections. Construction Solutions will use one section for office and another for its shop and lease the other two sections to tenants, Turner said.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Hobby Lobby opens long-awaited Ammon store

Jami Ingle of Idaho Falls at the Ammon Hobby Lobby store opening Monday.
The long-anticipated opening of Hobby Lobby went off this morning, with refreshments and a ribbon cutting by the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber Ambassadors, but the line that marked the opening of next-door Cabela’s in May were noticeably absent.

Store Manager Brad Bassett, who moved to the area from Phoenix, Ariz., a few weeks ago, said there were about 30 people outside at 8:30 a.m. Once the formalities were finished, slightly after 9, the 50,000-square-foot store was officially open for business. Bassett said the store employs about 55 people, down from the 87 who were needed to get it up and running.

Store Manager Brad Bassett
As noon approached, the number of customers continued to grow. Buying a 30-by-40-inch frame for a mirror in her living room, Jami Ingle of Idaho Falls said she was glad the wait was over.

“I was excited to find a frame this big,” said Ingle, who has made trips to the Hobby Lobby store in Logan Utah. “I think it’s great. I’m excited that it’s finally here.”

Mid-store, with a shopping cart that was filling up with artificial flowers and gifts, Kathy Peterson said she had come more out of curiosity. “It’s the new store in town, you know? You’ve got to check it out.”

Peterson said she thinks the Idaho Falls-Ammon area has crafts-crazy people to support any number of stores like Michaels, Porter’s, JoAnn Fabrics and Hobby Lobby. “I think competition is a good thing, no matter where it is,” she said.

Although the majority of customers late Monday morning were women, there were men in the store. Brad Christensen, a member of the Ammon City Council, said he’d stopped in out of curiosity.

“It looks like there’s a lot of enthusiasm for it,” he said.

Christensen also said he planned to buy something for his wife, Nicole. “Something to decorate the living room, probably. She’s always decorating,” he said.