06/12/2014 2:22 PM -
Jim Eder knew he wanted to purchase a second Beggars Pizza location in Northwest Indiana to add to his Dyer business, but the exact whereabouts of the new Beggars had not yet been determined.
One visit to 119th Street was all it took to sway Eder, luring him to downtown Whiting.
“We were actually going to go to Valparaiso,” Eder said. “I was very tempted to go to Valpo, but I told the boys, you know, let’s check this Whiting out. When we were looking at this location, Carol from the Chamber of Commerce saw our Beggars shirts and she came running across the street. She was so friendly, just really friendly.”
That initial impression was indicative of how people in Whiting continued to treat Eder during his time visiting the city. Consequently, he decided to make it a permanent home for the Beggars Pizza location that opened its doors in March 2013.
“Norb Dudzik was here working and we talked to Norb, and he took us over to City Hall,” Eder said. “Things just kind of started snowballing. Mayor Joe (Stahura) is just fantastic. With his vision, his incentive and his ambition with the town, I was sold.”
Eder’s sons Ryan and Jon were also vital in helping him make the decision to choose Whiting. Jon previously worked with Eder in the refrigeration business, while Ryan was serving in Iraq at the time. Both wanted to take part in a family business in Whiting.
“They kind of pushed me in this direction,” Eder said. “They said, ‘Dad, let’s go for it. What have we got to lose?’ They’re very active in the business; I couldn’t do it without those guys. My wife Janine is the real boss. We all have our own little part and we work well together, which is important.”
Whiting is filled with friendly people that can walk anywhere in town, another fact that played a role in Eder’s decision to choose Whiting.
“I’m a bicyclist, so I brought both my bikes here,” Eder said. “The lake is a block down the street. I cycle to the lakefront three times per week. It’s an awesome, awesome bike trail. Business-wise, maybe I would have done better in Valpo, but am I comfortable there? I’m more comfortable right here with my family.”
Although the word pizza is included in the name of the restaurant, Eder said his menu includes a wide variety of food options.
“I don’t like the connotation of a pizza place because I’m not just a pizza place, although we have the best pizza on the south side of Chicago,” Eder said. “We also have lasagna, spaghetti, mostaccioli, my marinated grilled chicken sandwiches are awesome, not to mention that I have fried chicken that is doing amazingly well here.”
Much like his decision to come to Whiting, Eder’s move to partner with the Northwest Indiana Oilmen is influenced by his relationships with others, in this case Oilmen President Don Popravak.
“Donny’s a great guy,” Eder said. “When I met Don, right away he and I got along pretty well. We’re both short guys, we see eye-to-eye. He’s got a nice stadium down there. I’m not a big baseball fan or a sports fan, but I mean if the Blackhawks or Sox are winning, I’m all for it because I sell more pizza. I like his ideas about downtown.”
Eder believes that the Oilmen and Beggars Pizza are both essential pieces to the downtown Whiting landscape.
“I love Kevin (Clark’s) microbrewery down the street,” Eder said. “I think that ties in really well with our pizza. A south side brewery, south side pizza and a south side baseball team. It all combines and correlates together, it’s a good fit. I just love the excitement of an eclectic town. It’s like New Buffalo on steroids.”