By Capt. Robert TaylorOctober 22, 2018
POCATELLO, Idaho -- Idaho Army National Guard Sgt. Brian Padigimus had never been to New York, taken a culinary arts course or worked in a restaurant before opening a New York-style pizzeria, but he knows the secret ingredients to success: a quality product, trusted business partners and a whole lot of motivation.
"Being motivated is 100 times more important than being educated," he said. "Because if you're educated and not motivated, then you're not going to do anything with it. If you're motivated and you know something, at least you'll utilize it."
In 2009 Padigimus used his motivation to successfully open Lucy's New York Style Pizzeria with a childhood friend in Roberts, Idaho, a small town of approximately 600 people north of Idaho Falls. Today, the partnership includes his twin brother, three additional stores, a second state and plans to expand further.
"You have to risk it for the biscuit and get over the idea you could fail," he said. "You need to take risks in life or you're going to stay where you are."
MAKING DOUGH FROM SCRATCH
Padigimus, an Infantry team leader with C Company, 2-116th Combined Arms Battalion, 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team, could have stayed where he was in 2009. He co-owned a drywall company with Tim Wright, a childhood friend. Wanting growth, the two decided to look for a second revenue source.
They started thinking about the restaurant business and an old friend, Dan George, introduced them to a man from Connecticut. Their new acquaintance told them everything he knew about New York-style pizza and convinced them to give it a try. In exchange, the pair named the restaurant after his dog, Lucy.
George, who managed an Idaho Falls restaurant, let the pair create and test their recipes in his restaurant's kitchen after closing the store at night. Padigimus and Wright have created the recipes for everything on the menu from scratch. After about four months, the duo was ready to open their first store.
"Eighty-five percent of Americans like pizza," he said. "It's a market I don't have to interest people in, they are already interested in pizza. They already know they love pizza, I just need to make mine better."
Before they could open their first store, they needed to find financing. The duo was rejected a dozen times before they found a banker willing to support a pizzeria in a small town.
Six months after opening, Padigimus's twin brother, Geoff, joined the ownership team. They now have two stores in Idaho Falls, the original restaurant in Roberts and one in Orem, Utah. Additional stores in the Salt Lake City Valley and Boise are planned. One of their Idaho Falls stores is now in the same building they tested their first recipes in.
SERVE PART TIME AROUND THE COUNTRY, WORLD
Padigimus joined the Idaho Army National Guard in 2014 at the age of 30. He wanted to join the military when he was 22, but his wife wasn't sold on the idea. He approached her again with the idea of serving part time in the National Guard and joined when she agreed. He became a 19D cavalry scout and reclassified to an 11B infantryman when his unit transitioned from an armored recon squadron to a combined arms battalion.
"Because the Idaho Army National Guard is part time, I can still carry on with my business," Padigimus said.
Since Padigimus was 30 and had started two businesses before joining the Idaho Army National Guard, adjusting to life as a private was challenging at first. He was used to doing things at his own pace and without orders.
"I had to change the way I would implement things and accept different outcomes," he said.
He enjoys the opportunity the Idaho Army National Guard has provided him to train and travel around the country and world. He has trained at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana, and at the Romanian Land Force Combat Training Center in Cincu, Romania. He most recently participated in Exercise Hanuman Guardian 2018 in Thailand.
"Thailand is the best thing I've done in the Army," Padigimus said. "We were able to do great training and enjoy the country."
Padigimus said he liked being able to spend time with Thai Soldiers and enjoy the country's culture, food and historical sites.
THE PIZZA GUYS
Padigimus' relationship with his partners helps him balance his military career with his civilian career.
"I have two really good business partners that handle things for me when I'm gone for long periods of time," he said. "Because we have a dynamic and long relationship, we can be candid with each other and it makes things easier."
Padigimus is able to communicate with his partners when he travels via his cell phone. Because of the unique relationship, he completely trusts his partners. When crucial business matters are scheduled while Padigimus is away, he signs a power of attorney for his brother to handle them.
His partners support his military career and traveled with his wife, Elise, to see him graduate basic traing. When Padigimus attended training at Camp Williams, located south of Salt Lake City, they brought him a couple of pizzas from their Utah store to share with his fellow Soldiers.
Padigimus said that after almost 10 years, the business is reaching a point where it is becoming self-sufficient and that the three don't need to be involved in the day-to-day operations, in turn making it easier for him to spend time away from home with the Idaho Army National Guard.
Though they spend less time working at their restaurants than when it first opened, the team still gets together for a couple of hours every day to go over business matters. Afterwards, the trio, known locally as "The Pizza Guys," will spend the rest of the day together working on new ideas and ventures. They've recently built each other's houses in Roberts and are constantly looking for other projects to work on.
Padigimus runs the office and handles the bookkeeping. Geoff handles marketing and Lucy's online presence, and Wright handles personnel/staff and maintenance. Padigimus also spends time working in the community, sponsoring various events in the area and schools.
"I call it working on my business instead of in my business," he said.
A FAMILY AFFAIR
Padigimus' twin brother isn't the only family member involved in Lucy's. Their dad, who recently retired, delivers pizza for the company and their little brother works part time at one of the stores. Wright's sister is a general manager at one of the locations.
Though Padigimus didn't attend college, he never stops learning and values education. He previously earned his emergency medical technician certification before beginning his military career and has taught himself a lot about operating a business through his 12 years of experience. High school students who work for Lucy's who drop out of high school must earn their GED, go back to school or find another job. Students at risk of failing out are placed on probation until their grades improve.
While education is important to Padigimus, he doesn't see the need to chase degrees for the sake of doing so.
"Getting an education is important if you need to apply it to your desired occupation, if you don't need it, don't waste your time and money chasing the title of 'educated,'" he said. "People get caught up with thinking things are important, instead of doing important things."
Lucy's has helped Padigimus fulfill an important goal for his family: the ability for his wife to stay home with their four children.
Padigimus' service in the Idaho Army National Guard allows him to provide his family with an important benefit. Through TRICARE Reserve select, the National Guard's insurance program for traditional Soldiers, he is able to attain health insurance to his family for $221.38 a month.
"Lucy's provides for me and my family," he said. "It's my own creation and I get a big discount on pizza."