Stellar Restaurant Solutions announced today that it will keep its corporate headquarters in Colorado Springs and could grow its call center business locally to 500 employees, double what it has today.

Steve Bigari, Stellar CEO, said he was looking at moving his growing business out of Colorado Springs, where it was born in 2002, to Phoenix or Dallas.

He is still looking at those cities for additional call center locations, but he credits Mayor Steve Bach for changing the local business climate and encouraging him to keep the company’s headquarters here.

Bigari expects the salaried corporate headcount at Stellar to grow from 16 to 50 in the next 18 months.

Stellar Restaurant Sollutions operates a call center that takes to-go orders for restaurants around the country. Bigari said the company is working on 10 pilot projects over the next 10 months. Each pilot represents a chain of restaurants and if the company gets one of those contracts, it would be taking to-go orders for all the restaurants in the chain.

Stellar has grown dramatically in the last year, jumping from 50 employees to 250, Bigari said.

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It began when he decided to centralize to-go calls for his McDonald’s franchises in town. He decided to solicit contract business.

“We took our first call Sept. 12 of 2002,” Bigari said.

From there, growth was slow but steady. Then, all of a sudden, his contracts started growing and Stellar’s business took off.

“People come in here and think we’re an overnight success,” Bigari said. “It’s 10 years overnight.”

With all of that growth, he said Bach came to his home during his campaign for mayor and asked how things were going.

“I told him, not very well, and that I was looking at moving my business,” Bigari said. “The business climate here was really hostile.”

He said he felt like everyone involved in the city government was making it difficult to get things done.

He said Bach has not offered him any financial or tax incentives to stay.

“It’s not about money,” Bigari said. “It’s about a willingness to partner with us.”

He said the climate has changed, and he feels like communication is more open. He’s more easily able to work with arms of the government like the building and zoning department than he was in the past.

Those changes were enough to convince Bigari to stay put. His business could grow to more than 2,000 employees in the next 18 months if he gets most of the contracts he’s vying for now. Not all of those jobs would be here in Colorado Springs, but about 500 would be, Bigari said.