Pizza Ranch Eyes Columbia, Missouri for Expansion

Columbia Daily Tribune
May 26, 2016

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Streek Talk: Pizza Ranch Eyes Columbia for New Location

Pizza-loving Columbians feeling short on dining options - we have yet to reach a 1:1 ratio of residents to restaurants - are in luck.

Pizza Ranch, an Iowa-based chain with about 200 locations spread throughout the Midwest and Great Plains, is targeting Columbia for a restaurant.

Marilyn Mayberry, director of franchise development at Pizza Ranch, said the company felt like Columbia was a natural fit for future expansion.

"Columbia is a vibrant market," Mayberry said. "It seems like a good fit from the standpoint of vibrancy, and it has a nice size."

Pizza Ranch, for the uninitiated, offers dine-in and carryout options that focus mainly on pizza and fried chicken. The company is perhaps best known for its all-you-can-eat buffet that is stocked with pizza, chicken, a salad bar, desserts and various sides.

The restaurants also feature community rooms Mayberry said are available for business meetings, wedding rehearsals and family reunions.

"Our concept is very family-friendly and very versatile," Mayberry said. "Everyone, from 3-year-olds to 93-year-olds, loved Pizza Ranch."

The company has targeted Columbia for future growth and is looking for potential franchisees to develop the market. Mayberry said Pizza Ranch would not begin working with a real estate team to find a potential location until it awards the local franchise rights. Because the company is still quite early in the process of breaking into the local market, Mayberry said the timeline of Columbia getting a Pizza Ranch is still up in the air.

"We'd love to be open a year from now, but all of these processes take time," she said.

The original Pizza Ranch opened in 1981 in Hull, Iowa. Three years later, the company opened its first franchise location in Mountain Lake, Minn. Pizza Ranch has expanded exponentially in the three decades since, with locations in Illinois, Colorado, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Montana, among others.

Pizza Ranch restaurants traditionally are about 5,000 to 6,000 square feet, Mayberry said. A Columbia restaurant likely would create about 85 part-time positions as well as a handful of full-time managerial jobs, she said.

The pizza chain already has Missouri locations in Maryville, Kansas City, Liberty and Independence. Mayberry said Pizza Ranch wants to "continue to grow and expand in Missouri" with an eye on St. Joseph, Jefferson City, Branson, Springfield and Joplin.

"Columbia and Jefferson City are very attractive to us," she said.

The company's website also lists franchise possibilities in Sedalia, Moberly, Hannibal and Cape Girardeau.

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