Ed and Margie Imo began their journey to St. Louis pizza history as a pair of young, hardworking St. Louisians who fell in love, started a family and dreamt of owning their own home.
As devoted Catholics, they would wait until 11:30 every Friday night to order a meat-topped pizza from one of the many Italian restaurants near their home on The Hill in St. Louis. After years of picking up their pizzas safely after midnight, a simple idea launched a phenomenon…
“Wouldn’t it be nice if someone would deliver the pizza to us?”
They opened their first pizza parlor in 1964 at Thurman and Shaw Avenues in St. Louis. It was open evenings only, offering pick-up and delivery. Ed continued to work as a tile setter, slicing squares of linoleum by day and pizza by night. Their first kitchen consisted of a used oven, two refrigerators and a stove they purchased for $75.
With no experience in retail and little experience in cooking, the Imos fueled their vision with stamina and determination. They hired a pizza chef to prepare the South St. Louis-style pizza they loved, using Provel®® cheese instead of mozzarella on that famous thin crust. Marge answered the phone and prepped the salads, and the pair used an old tackle box as their first cash register.
People all around the neighborhood were simply amazed that they could have dinner delivered right to their door, and the idea didn’t take long to catch on. Nine months after opening the first store, they opened another, and another…and then another. By 1985 they had 30 stores and opened up the business to franchisers.
The children of Ed and Marge are now running the day to day operations of Imo’s and they are poised for rapid growth. This is due to the recent relocation of their franchise operation to a new 72,000 square foot warehouse and 10,000 square foot office at the new headquarter at 17th and Delmar in downtown St. Louis. The 96 stores should increase to well over 100 in the next year.