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Article by Mike Weland from the Kootenai Valley Times
It’s by all accounts a feat of will, perseverance, hard work and sheer determination, but Mike Kupper, his wife Kim and their crew at Simple Simon’s Pizza are now open in a building of their own after sharing space in the Conoco station and mini-mart for four years.
“We closed the old shop March 28, moved everything in, had a soft opening in the new location March 31 and full opening April 1,” Mike said. “It was pretty intense, but we refused to believe we couldn’t or wouldn’t do it. We had until April 2 to be out after our old contract expired, we have a great team and they made it happen.”
And the way Mike and Kim arrived at the point of facing such a daunting task is in itself a tale.
A few years ago, Mike and Kim were contemplating moving from the San Francisco Bay area in which they’d grown up and built their lives. Mike had operated his own water feature and construction businesses for 30-some years, the kids were growing ever closer to graduation and they wanted to see something different. Slower, a rural pace.
They’d discussed it, but never that seriously, talking about the places they could go, looking them up online, putting them on their “maybe” sheet or in the “nope” bin, a casual exercise more than anything. Until Kim returned from a weekend visit with friends in Bonners Ferry.
“That was it,” Mike said. “She came home and her mind was made up. Bonners Ferry.”
It didn’t take her long to convince her husband, and before long, the business was for sale, their house, on the market a mere two weeks sold, and the family was packed and on their way north. That was in 2015.
“Looking back, it’s amazing,” Mike said with a slow head shake, “We threw caution to the wind and took off to chase our dream. Crazy! I had a great career, big money, and took a big step into the unknown. We should have been scared. We grew up there, all that we’d known, and we turned away. No prospects, nothing. But we saw a door open, we stepped through, and it was exciting.”
A man who likes doing, Mike took a job as a bus driver for School District 101 not long after getting everything settled in, a job he still holds.
“For him,” Kim said, “it’s a calling far more than a job. He loves the kids.”
Then, about two years ago, their middle son, Caden, came home worried and announced he might be losing his job soon. Simple Simon’s Pizza, he said, was up for sale.
Two years after the franchise opened, Mike bought it.
After more than a year of COVID and with work to resume on the Bonners Ferry Highway 95 realignment project in 2023, with Stage 2 to tear out and rebuild Highway 95 from Alderson Lane to LaBrosse Hill Road, Mike faced needing a substantial break on his lease in the Conoco building or a new location, and when lease negotiations broke down, he bought the building just north of Alderson at 6720 Main Street.
For 14 weeks, he and Kim worked to get the building ready for the move, and while not everything is as he wants it quite yet, it is already a fantastic place for the entire family … a great location for a pizzeria that offers much more than pizza.
There are no job titles at the Bonners Ferry Simple Simon’s Pizza. Mike, Kim, manager Manny Rio-Castro are the leaders but like every one of their 10-person staff, everyone does everything that must be done to ensure excellence in both quality and service, be it a quick slice of pizza pie, a family night out, a special party or business event or a home delivery, piping hot and with the cheese and toppings on the pie where they belong, not stuck to the lid.
You can get your pizza gluten free or with keto options, custom made to order with your choice of crust, including stuff crust, toppings and sauces and you can have them pile all that goodness atop anything from a 12-inch small to a 20-inch jumbo pizza.
But, as mentioned, Simple Simon’s Pizza isn’t just pizza. You can order from a variety of pasta bowls, sandwiches, boneless or bone-in chicken wings, Stromboli, calzones … even desserts!
Though it is clean, friendly and inviting now, Mike and Kim have plans to make it even better. They’ll soon be adding big screen TV and, in partnership with E.L. Internet Northwest, a bank of tall tables and chairs along the front wall for those who like to browse while they eat.
They’re working on creating patio dining, on bringing in local art for display, on making Simple Simon’s Pizza a community hub, a place that brings people together.
“We’re not a cookie-cutter fast food restaurant,” Mike said. “We’re a happy workplace with staff that enjoys being here. That’s what makes the whole atmosphere of a restaurant, and ours is warm, comfortable and family friendly.”
Bonners Ferry’s Simple Simon’s Pizza is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. As it warms up, Mike said, they plan to extend their hours.
“People are coming in off the lake, coming down after a day of huckleberry picking, it’s late and they’re hungry,” Mike said. “We’ll be here so they don’t have to worry about what to fix!”
You can eat in, take out, pre-order or have your pizza delivered within a five mile radius of Bonners Ferry all day. Stop in, call (208) 267-9410 or visit Bonners Ferry Simple Simon’s Pizza online.