Farmington couple opens 9th pizza franchise

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Also own two Steak-N-Shakes

Business Today

POPLAR BLUFF -- CiCi's Pizza recently opened at Valley Plaza Shopping Center. The restaurant is part of a Texas-based national chain known for its pizza and dessert buffets.

The restaurant is the ninth pizza franchise venture for owners Chip and Debbie Peterson, who also own the Steak-N-Shake restaurants in Poplar Bluff and Farmington.

Another Peterson-owned CiCi's Pizza opened in Columbia last week, bringing their franchise ownership to 10. The Poplar Bluff location is the 583rd CiCi's Pizza in the country.

About 400 employees are on the Petersons' payroll in the 10 pizza restaurants.

At the family-oriented restaurant, customers are ensured the freshest food possible, said Peterson. In the kitchen, huge bags of flour and bulk quantities of yeast, mozzarella cheese and sauce reveal the food at CiCi's Pizza is prepared fresh and in-house.

Peterson said employees often work into the wee hours of the night preparing for the next day's business, but it doesn't stop there. Although the restaurant doesn't open until 11 a.m., the staff will be hard at work as early as 8 a.m. to ready for the lunchtime rush.

"We try to provide a high-quality product at reasonable prices," Peterson said.

The Petersons opened their first restaurant, Steak-N-Shake, in Farmington about 12 years ago. The Poplar Bluff Steak-N-Shake was next before the Petersons became interested in CiCi's Pizza after visits to Texas where the restaurant chain is based.

"We loved it because you could feed the whole family for under $20," said Peterson. "They're really a fun place to be."

After extensive training, the Petersons began opening CiCi's Pizza restaurants in Arnold, Crystal City, Cape Girardeau, Columbia, Poplar Bluff and other cities.

The Petersons plan on opening three more restaurants in 2005, then they might work on growth within the established businesses.

"We try to run it more like a big family than a company," Peterson said. "We make sure we know everybody's name."

Treating employees well and offering opportunities for advancement are two of the values the couple makes sure they implement.

"They, in turn, work really hard and try to run good restaurants," he said.

Several of the Petersons' restaurants have earned recognition, including the local Steak-N-Shake, which won national Store of the Year honors two years ago.

BIG -- The Petersons plan on opening three more restaurants in 2005, then they might work on growth within the established businesses.

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