Imo’s Wildhorse Creek Store makes convenient main ingredient
By: Suzanne Corbett
John Imo knows how to think outside the pizza box. It is a skill he learned from his parents, Ed and Margie Imo, who founded Imo’s Pizza back in 1964 when pizza delivery was a rarity and pizza generally was cut into wedges.
“My dad worked as a tile setter. What he saw all day was squares, so he cut the pizza into squares. Back in the ‘60s, no one was cutting it into squares,” said Imo, explaining how Imo’s become renown for its square-cut pizza and its signature, smooth-melting cheese blend – Provel – which is another Imo innovation. “We hold the patent on Hoffman’s Provel cheese, a blend of Swiss, cheddar and provolone.”
Today, square-cut pizza is a norm and Provel has become the cheese of choice for St. Louis pizzerias and countless Italian chefs across the region. With such a successful track record of establishing and creating innovative ideas and products, it should come as no surprise that John Imo has developed another unique concept: Imo’s’ first operation in a gas and convenience store, which opened two months ago. Located in the Mobil station at the corner of Long and Wildhorse Creek roads, it provides a unique opportunity to provide expanded service and added convenience to customers.
When asked what makes the Mobil Wildhorse Creek store unique from other franchise operations, Imo said, “First, there’s an Imo running the store. And being where we are allows us to deliver a few extra services to our customers. Here, we’ll deliver anything that is sold in the store except for tobacco and alcohol along with your food order. Milk, eggs – anything. One time, we had a guy order a sandwich so he could have his Sunday paper delivered to him.”
Imo’s’ distinctive operation of having the business inside a convenience store provides for the original, full-service operation with value added extras and services, such as the Imo’s Express case, a grab-and-go alternative featuring hot, ready-made, fresh-baked pizzas. The Imo’s Express case also has a cold storage section where pizza kits and classic Imo’s ingredients like salad dressing, sauce and blocks of Hoffman’s Provel cheese can be purchased.
“We’re also providing frozen pizzas. If you have out-of-town guests looking for an Imo’s fix or kids going back to college, they’re perfect,” said Imo, who noted that customers who want frozen pizzas to stock in their freezer or share with family and friends need only call ahead and order, at least for now. Imo has plans to add a freezer case inside the store and stock it with frozen pizzas.
Beyond the grab-and-go, Imo’s Express case and frozen pizza options, a full-service counter offers Imo’s’ complete menu of custom-made pizzas, sandwiches, salads and appetizers. There also is a breakfast pizza, a specialty Imo offers at his Mobil Wildhorse Creek location.
With lots of choices and services including catering, Imo encourages customers to step inside and custom order anytime. It only takes minutes to have custom-baked pizza prepared.
“Come in and place your order,” Imo said. “By the time you shop the store, fill up or drive through the car wash, your pizza will be ready.”
17287 Wildhorse Creek Road • Chesterfield
6:30 a.m.-10 p.m., Monday-Friday; 10 a.m.-10 p.m., Saturday-Sunday