Its home is the heartland
Sorry, coastal Americans, but Pizza Ranch is all about the heartland. Founded in Hull, Iowa in 1981, Pizza Ranch has expanded to include 200 locations across a total of 13 states: Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
It was founded on teenage dreams
Pizza Ranch’s origin story goes back to when its founder and president, Adrie Groenewig, was just 19 years old. Dividing his post-high school-days between welding and working at a pizza parlor in the neighboring town of Sioux Center, Adrie began to notice how popular pizza was. Soon, an idea for a business began to germinate. So did a recipe: Adrie Groeneweg began testing and honing his pizza recipes in his parents’ kitchen. By December of 1981, Adrie had opened his first Pizza Ranch in Hull.
We wholeheartedly endorse teaching your kids to love cooking, and here’s a great set of guidelines for getting that going in your house.
Adrie’s dad was a huge part of the story
Adrie’s dad’s belief in his son’s dream was fundamental to getting Pizza Ranch going. When Adrie told his dad about his idea for opening a pizza place in his own town, his dad saw the potential for great success. In fact, he put his own funds behind it, signing a note at the bank with an interest rate of 18%. No pressure, huh Adrie?
We have no doubt that Adrie is grateful to his dad. If you want to show some love to your own dear old dad, try making him any one of these Father’s Day recipes.
The western theme was Dad (and Mom’s) idea
While Adrie was busy creating recipes, his parents came up with the idea for the western theme.
The first pizza flavors were as unique as the Pizza Ranch concept
Many of Pizza Ranch’s original house pizzas were uniquely western themed. These included the Sweet Swine (ham and pineapple), the Texan Taco, the Bronco (for meat lovers), and the Prairie (for veggie lovers. But nowadays, if you don’t find the pizza you want on the extensive menu, all you have to do is ask for it, and you shall receive.
The second location was not the first franchise location
Adrie opened a second location of Pizza Ranch in Orange City, Iowa just two years after he opened the first location in Hull. That’s where Pizza Ranch’s famous “noon buffet” was introduced (there had only been a dinner buffet, previously; now Pizza Ranch is known for its buffet offerings, which come with soft drinks included). But the Orange City location was fully owned and managed by Adrie, who had big dreams but had no idea just how big the reality would become…yet.
The first franchise location was in Minnesota
Two and a half years after the first Pizza Ranch opened, Adrie received an inquiry from a businessman in Mountain Lake, Minnesota. He wondered if Adrie was interested in franchising. Of course, the answer was “yes” and the first Pizza Ranch franchise location opened in Minnesota in 1984.
Chicken wasn’t part of the original plan
Although the famous ranch-style chicken is fundamental to Pizza Ranch’s business, it wasn’t even on the menu until 1987 when the Sioux City franchise location opened. But almost as soon as it did land on the menu, it became hugely popular, especially as a delivery item.
God has always been a part of the plan
Pizza Ranch’s stated vision is “To glorify God by positively impacting the world.” And Pizza Ranch follows that vision by fostering relationships with schools, churches, emergency services and more, by hosting fundraising events and otherwise contributing to the community.
So has being “legendary”
Pizza Ranch’s stated mission is to “give every guest a legendary experience.”
It has presidential cred
Pizza Ranch has become a popular stop for conservative presidential candidates during the Iowa caucuses. Bet you can’t guess the favorite foods of these 25 US presidents, but maybe Adrie can!
Pizza Ranch will pray for you
Your favorite pizza isn’t the only thing Pizza ranch will make to order. They’ll also pray for you if you ask. All you have to do is fill out the prayer request form and wait for divine intervention because Pizza Ranch “believes in the power of prayer,” as they write on their blog.
Don’t leave without trying the Cactus Bread
Cactus Bread is Pizza Ranch’s signature dessert: a dessert pizza topped with a crowd-pleasing blend of cinnamon, sugar and glaze. For a similar vibe (with a hint of fresh apples), you can try making this caramel apple dessert pizza.