Biz Buzz: Longtime family restaurant under new ownership after 49 years of business
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Do you want to know what’s happening in the eastern Idaho business scene? We’ve got you covered. Here is a rundown of this week’s business news across the valley.
Smitty’s under new ownership after 4-month long remodel project
IDAHO FALLS – Smitty’s Pancake & Steak House in Idaho Falls was a hopping place as customers came to kick off their Fourth of July weekend.
If you’ve been inside lately, you may have noticed some changes. The restaurant recently reopened after a four-month long remodel to the interior of the building, and it’s now under new ownership.
“May 16 was our first day of operations and we had people in here patching up and doing miscellaneous repairs 20 minutes before the door opened,” co-owner Porter Clayton tells EastIdahoNews.com.
Clayton bought the business last fall ahead of the holiday season. Minor renovations didn’t begin until February. Clayton and his team immersed themselves in the project when the stay-home order went into effect.
Among the renovations are new flooring, light fixtures, booths and a sound system. They also re-painted the inside and added a conference room wall to provide a banquet room.
“We probably tripled the amount of waiting room (space)…to make it more accommodating to guests and the staff,” Clayton says. “One of the highlights of our entry area is a log wall with a fireplace to set the mood of what we’re trying to accomplish.”
Clayton says one of the goals with the remodel is to make it a place where customers want to go for lunch and dinner, not just breakfast.
Smitty’s menu has signature items like German pancakes, buttermilk pancakes and eggs Benedict that have become popular to customers over the years. Clayton says those are still available, along with some new items.
“We took some things off that customers didn’t enjoy, and we added a couple things that we’re hoping customers do start to pick up on,” he says.
One of the new items is chicken fried chicken, a spinoff of the restaurant’s chicken fried steak. Also added to the menu are chicken and waffles, Smitty’s twist of a southern favorite.
“We’re looking to do a Waffle Wednesday,” general manager Lonnie Mack says. “We want to give guests something (unique) to come in for. You’ve got Taco Tuesday, so Waffle Wednesday sounds good to us.”
A family restaurant
Clayton says the 54-year-old restaurant has always been a special place for him and his family and he was inspired to buy it after hearing rumors that the previous owners might close it.
“This was where I came the morning of my wedding with all my brothers and groomsmen. This is where my sister came on her first date,” Clayton says. “We sat down … with the previous owners to see if we could keep Smitty’s here.”
The Petersen family first opened Smitty’s in 1966. Leo and Cleo Werner bought it in 1971, and it had remained in that family since then. Their granddaughters, Amanda Rosenberg and Katrina Lott, were the most recent owners.
“I’ve been (involved with the restaurant) since I was 14 years old, and I wanted new experiences,” Lott says of the decision to sell the restaurant.
Rosenberg hasn’t set foot in the restaurant since it was sold in October. Though she’s glad the new owners have upgraded it, she says it’s hard to let it go.
“That was our whole childhood,” Rosenberg says. “We would be on our grandma’s hip while she was working. It was a big part of our life that we’ll miss, and we hope that (the new owners) will keep it Smitty’s. We wish them the best.”
Rosenberg and Lott say it’s the customers they’re going to miss most of all.
“We hope our customers understand that we had to do (what was best for us), but we’re going to miss all of them,” Rosenberg says.
Since reopening, Mack says the response from the community has been positive. He’s hoping to cater for businesses and events in the future and will be launching a catering menu soon.
“Smitty’s has been in the community 50 years, and our goal is to keep it here another 50 years,” Clayton says. “We hope our customers enjoy the same experience we had here growing up.”
Smitty’s Pancake & Steak House is at 645 West Broadway in Idaho Falls. It is open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.
Local homeowner’s association announces new community development director
IDAHO FALLS – Michael Madson, CMCA, president and chief executive officer of MGM Association Management, has announced the hiring of Scott Setterlund, HOA community development director, who will oversee and manage their third location in Idaho Falls.
Setterlund holds a master’s degree in human performance. His background is in community leadership and building community cultures, training and education, and designing programs for associations that engage neighbors. With more than 25 years of experience working directly with clients, Setterlund has a unique skill set that is quick to understand the needs of a community, and then, getting it to thrive. He is most comfortable working face-to-face with subdivisions and enjoys educating new homeowners. Setterlund will oversee communities in the surrounding Idaho Falls, Rexburg, Pocatello service areas, as well as into Montana and Wyoming.
New board members elected at Fall River Electric
REXBURG – Fall River Electric’s nine-member Board of Directors elected new officers, with Dede Draper voted as board president, Georg Behrens as vice-president and Husk Crowther as secretary-treasurer. Draper is the second woman to lead the board since Sonja Cherry held the position in 1998. She succeeds Doug Schmier, who served as board president since 2016.
SMALL BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT
Local business offering customers a ‘healing hand’ with natural herbs and other products
IDAHO FALLS – If you’re into natural healing herbs, candles, tea, rock or crystal jewelry and other similar items, the Healing Hands Metaphysical Store at 429 B Street in Idaho Falls may be a place you’re familiar with.
For the last 13 years, it’s been a popular spot for customers to find a variety of spiritual wellness products.
“People want to learn about plants and the medicine they provide and make their own medicine from teas and herbs that we sell,” owner Terri Ireland tells EastIdahoNews.com.