Food & Drink

Imo’s Pizza veteran opens new Highland location

Michael Frazier knows a thing or two about the Imo’s franchise.

His family owns Imo’s stores in Edwardsville and Bethalto, and Frazier, 31, had been running those for the past five years. He now has brought his expertise to Highland, as he opened an Imo’s franchise Sept. 9.

“When I ran the Edwardsville location, we had lots and lots of people ask us to open a store out here,” Frazier said. “So my partner and I were looking for somewhere to expand to. We scouted other places, but Highland seemed like the most logical place to take the Imo’s brand.”

Overall, everything has gone well to date, as the community seems excited to have Imo’s back. Highland previously had an Imo’s, but it closed.

“I expected to do a certain amount of business when we opened in the first week; did almost 30 percent more,” he said. “It was taking us an hour to two to deliver pizzas over the weekend (Sept. 13-15), but you have to hope people are patient. And for the most part people were, and super understanding.”

As for what customers can expect from him and his staff, Frazier said, “The quality food that Imo’s is known and loved for and the service that hopefully goes with it.”

While crazy busy and chaotic, Frazier has enjoyed his short time running the Imo’s location, particularly meeting people. He also appreciates the community’s patience as they’ve contended with high volumes of business.

“I’ve been working a lot up front, and talking and getting to know the customers has been great,” he said. “Everyone seems really excited. Even though we’ve been really busy, everyone has been really patient and friendly. It’s really fun getting to know everybody.

“It’s all about being a part of the community. We like to help out local sports team and participate with churches as much possible. Being involved in these types of activities when they roll around is something we look forward to doing.”

One challenge Frazier faces is what he calls “the honeymoon phase.” Frazier explained in the honeymoon phase when the restaurant is new, it typically does twice as much business than normal in the first month. In turn, he had to hire and train enough staff to handle the overwhelming workload. However, once things slow down, there’s a flip side.

“You don’t want to hire too many people because you don’t want to have to let go of too many people in the town you’re trying to survive in,” he said. “There’s a fine line having enough staff to deal with the honeymoon phase but not so much that you already have to burn bridges in town when things slow down.”

Get to know Michael Frazier

Frazier is from Bethalto and graduated from Bethalto High School. He attended Southern Illinois University Edwardsville for four years, but, before graduating, shifted to culinary school due to mass teacher firings in Illinois.

He eventually graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in St. Peters, Missouri, around 2010.

Frazier and his wife, Rachel, have a 6-month old daughter, Madeleine. Rachel hails from Edwardsville.

The family lives in East Alton.

“Highland is a great town. I keep trying to get my wife to move here, but it’s too far from our friends,” Michael Frazier quipped.

About Imo’s in Highland

  • Hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday.
  • Days open: Monday-Sunday.
  • Address: 2625 Plaza Drive, Highland.
  • Phone number: 618-882-4400.
  • Menu: Pizza, sandwiches, pasta, salads, chicken wings, toasted ravioli, and more.
  • Specials: Imo’s has online specials such as a two-topping, 12-inch pizza for $8 on Mondays and Tuesdays. They also have lunch specials, including an 8-inch pizza, salad bar and soda for $9.25.