Est. 1964

Imo's® History

The year was 1964, Ed and Margie Imo, a young couple with dreams of buying a home for the family, just opened a pizza parlor in The Hill neighborhood. It wasn’t too long before their name and square-cut pies would become synonymous with St. Louis traditions and pizza history.

Devoted Catholics, the Imo family would wait until 11:30 pm every Friday to order a meat-topped pizza from one of the many Italian restaurants near their home. After years of picking up their pizzas after midnight, they asked themselves, “Wouldn’t it be nice if someone would deliver the pizza to us?” Their thought would soon revolutionize the pizza industry.

An Idea Sparks a Phenomenon

Knowing they had something special, the couple took five years to save up $1,500 and opened their first parlor on the corner of Thurman and Shaw. With no retail background, and no formal culinary training, the couple was ignited by their entrepreneurial spirit and determination.

In the beginning, their first kitchen consisted of a used oven, two refrigerators, and a stove that they purchased for $75. Ed continued to work as a tile setter slicing squares of linoleum by day and pizza by night. Margie answered the phones, prepped salads into cups, and worked the cash register - an old tackle box they repurposed. To keep up with all the orders, they enlisted Margie’s brother to make all the deliveries. Lastly, they hired a chef from the neighborhood to cook the pizzas who, unbeknownst to them, would incorporate an ingredient that would be forever ingrained into the identity of their brand.

A Provel-ution!

In place of the Mozzarella cheese traditionally layered on South St. Louis-style pizza, their new chef chose to use Provel® cheese. It was a hot success! Soon they were pumping out so many pizzas that they needed to find more of the cheesy ingredient.

Unable to find a reliable distributor, word quickly got around town that they were looking. One day a gentleman named Mr. John showed up to their parlor with a block of Provel® cheese in the trunk of his car. Unable to pay him for the first block, he gave them the Provel® cheese on loan the first week. The following week they paid him back, and Mr. John returned every week for the next three years until his death.

Their demand for Provel® cheese rapidly grew, and they needed to find a steady supply. Knowing Costa Grocery held the only rights to distribute Provel® cheese in St. Louis, Ed Imo offered to buy the business. The owner agreed to sell, and their cheesy dilemma was solved.

Throughout the Years

Eight months into opening their first parlor, Ed and Margie’s friends asked if they could open a second location for them. That was only the beginning. Soon the couple had stores everywhere, reaching 30 parlors across the St. Louis region by 1985. At that point the family decided to open the brand up to franchising.

As time went on, their menu expanded to include pasta, appetizers, sandwiches, and desserts. Their product lineup was not the only thing to grew over the years; their fanbase reached a new level. Soon the family was packaging and shipping their St. Louis-style pizza, Toasted Ravioli, and Provel Bites across the country to their loyal customers.

What's Next

The children of Ed and Margie are now running the day-to-day operations of Imo’s, and they are poised to expand the brand’s footprint across the Midwest in the next few years. In 2016, the company relocated its headquarters and franchise operation to a new 72,000 square foot warehouse, and 10,000 square foot office in downtown St. Louis.

With more than 100 stores and franchises in Missouri, Illinois, and Kansas the Imo’s family has never resisted change. From popularizing delivery to creating a nationwide Provel® cheese following, their philosophy of making every customer feel comfortable and welcome has propelled the brand from just a pizza parlor into a tradition; making us the Square Beyond Compare®!

Imo's® Timeline

1963

University of Missouri - St. Louis Opens

St. Louis Zoo Train & Planetarium in Forest Park opens to the public

1964

Imo's® is Founded

The first Imo’s® opens in the Shaw neighborhood just a couple miles east of The Hill proper.

St. Louis Bicentennial

Cardinals win the World Series against the New York Yankees

1965

Imo's® Opens Second Location

Gateway Arch is Erected

1966

Busch Stadium is Built & Completed

Last Street Car Line Disappears

1970

Ralston Purina Tower is Completed

1974

Imo's Delivery is Famous

The Post Dispatch proclaims Imo’s the “hands outstretched” winner of delivery.

Eads Bridge Railroad tracks are closed

1976

America's Bicentennial

1981

First VP Fair takes place on the Riverfront

1982

Cardinals win the World Series against the Milwaukee Brewers

1985

Imo’s Opens Franchises

Imo’s® opens 30th store in the Greater St. Louis region and opens up to franchises.

Imo’s Ditches the Paper Bag!

Imo’s® discontinues their original paper delivery bag.

1987

NFL Cardinals Team Leaves St. Louis

1990

Imo’s® Egg-Ceptional Pizza is Invented

They said “eggs on a pizza?!” We said, mmm...

1993

The Metro Link Opens

The Great Flood on 1993 hits St. Louis

1995

The Rams leave Los Angeles for St. Louis

2000

The St. Louis Rams win the Super Bowl XXXIV against the Tennessee Titans

2006

Cardinals win the World Series against the Detroit Tigers

2011

First Torry Holt Commercial

Cardinals win the World Series against the Texas Rangers

2012

First David Freese Commercial

Imo’s releases their first commercial featuring World Series hero and hometown superstar David Freese.

2014

April 8th Proclaimed “Imo’s Day!”

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Imo’s, former St. Louis Mayor Slay proclaims April 8th as “Imo’s® Day.”

2015

Imo’s Reaches 100 Stores!

The “Original St. Louis-Style Pizza” reaches 100 stores in Missouri and Illinois.

Imo’s Moves Downtown

Imo’s builds a new headquarters & distribution center in downtown St. Louis.

2018

First Jayson Tatum Commercial

Imo’s releases their first commercial featuring NBA star and hometown basketball standout Jayson Tatum.

2019

Imo’s® Guy Goes Viral

Imo’s Guy makes his debut in San Jose during Game 2 of the NHL Conference Finals, St. Louis Blues vs. Sharks.

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