A Passion for Pizza

For Blaine Ellis, the passion has changed.

What used to drive Ellis was teaching. Now pizza is his motivating factor.

Ellis is the owner of Papa Murphy's Take-n-Bake Pizza, 1604 W. McGalliard Rd. It's a business he opened up six months ago with his wife Jan after leaving behind 25 years of teaching junior high school history.

But Ellis didn't just leave teaching. He also left his home state of Washington to come to Muncie and open up his favorite franchise restaurant.

"I kind of hit the wall teaching, and the passion had left," Ellis said. "When I first walked into a Papa Murphy's, I said, 'If I ever have a business, this is the type of business I would want to run.'

"I wanted a business where the product would almost sell itself, and that's what I think these pizzas do."

Now Ellis has that business.

His is a business of pizza prepared in a restaurant but baked in the customers' ovens.-á

The Papa Murphy's franchise began in Oregon when two separate pizzerias combined. Their idea was to provide freshly made pizzas that customers could cook in their own homes.

Besides regular pizzas, Papa Murphy's also offers stuffed pizzas, gourmet pizzas, salad, breadsticks, and chocolate chip cookie dough.

Most pizzas range from $6 to $14.

There are Papa Murphy's restaurants all over the West Coast, and more are opening up in the rest of the country.

That's how Ellis ended up in Indiana. He said when he was looking to open his own Papa Murphy's restaurant, all the West Coast territory had been taken. The franchise was pushing the Midwest, he said, specifically the Indianapolis area. So Ellis jumped on board in the new market.

"I flew out and looked at Bloomington, Marion, Columbus, and others," Ellis said. "When I drove into Muncie, it was like God said, 'This is the spot.'"

The spot was nowhere near Ellis's home state where he had spent his entire life.

"It's been a difficult move because our family is still back in the northwest," Ellis said.

However, his belief in the restaurant and his own desire to change careers helped to bring Ellis to Indiana.

"We had been customers of Papa Murphy's for six years and were sold on the product and concept," he said. "I wouldn't want to come to Muncie and open up 'Blaine's Pizzeria' because they already have a thousand of those, but they didn't have a take-and-bake pizza place."

Although Papa Murphy's isn't based on the same concept as other pizza restaurants in Muncie, Ellis said he still considers them competition because they're all trying to sell pizza.

Competition is part of business, and Ellis is in business, although he has never been a businessman before.

"There's been little glitches along the way," Ellis said about starting his own business. But he said the franchise provided him with training and offers a lot of support.

Ellis and his wife said a customer base is building, but that he would like to see more college students come into his store.

"We're trying to get the college students to realize they're getting more pizza for less money," he said. "But they do have to bake it at home. We're fighting the 'we want it delivered' sort of thing."

For now, though, six months after starting his business, Ellis said he and his wife are looking to slow down.

"We're trying to get out a little more to give ourselves a break," Ellis said. "But 90 percent of the time, one of us is here. It's been exhausting. I've enjoyed it, so I wouldn't call it stressful."

Despite constantly being surrounded by the product he serves, Ellis said he still enjoys it.

"We still eat Papa Murphy's pizza," he said.

Papa Murphy's Take-n-Bake pizza is open daily 10 a.m.-9 p.m. and Sunday noon-9 p.m.


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