Julie Sullivan, an opening restaurant trainer with Pizza Ranch out of Orange City Iowa, demonstrates how to roll dough to new employees Austin Sherrill and Mikey Becerra, right, during a training session Wednesday at the new Pizza Ranch restaurant. / Dan Powers/Post-Crescent Media
Pizza Ranch will open Monday at N139 Eisenhower Drive, near the intersection of Calumet Street in Buchanan. It’s a casual, ranch-theme restaurant with a buffet format serving pizza, salad and chicken.
Get a peek inside by clicking on the video link above.
This branch is the first of two that will be built in the greater Appleton area.
The second lease has not yet been signed, said Todd Schleh who owns this location and the 5-year-old Fond du Lac Pizza Ranch with Jessica Wilke. They have two additional investors in Buchanan, Robert Rehm Jr. and Dale Jorgenson.
The Pizza Ranch website lists the investment for a restaurant startup at $1.3 to $2.3 million, and Schleh said the cost of this branch was “in the middle of that range.”
Pizza Ranch is a chain based in Hull, Iowa that has 175 locations throughout the Midwest.
On one of its training days earlier this week, the Buchanan restaurant invited neighbors and friends to try out the buffet. Carold Wunderlich works nearby in Kimberly and came with her coworkers. She made a beeline for the salad bar.
“It’s nice to have some variety in the neighborhood,” she said. “Everyone here seems very warm and welcoming.”
The Appleton area matches the company’s preferred demographics, said Wilke, who is both partner and general manager.
“It’s a tight-knit community. There are a ton of high schools and community organizations and churches,” she said. “We like communities like that.”
Pizza Ranch’s company vision states that it seeks, “To glorify God by positively impacting the world we live in.”
“We like fundraising. We like hiring high school kids who haven’t had a job before. We like to be the first place and usually it’s a pretty good experience here,” said Wilke. “We donate a lot. We do Community Impact nights, which is what the fundraiser nights are called.”
She said the restaurant hired 120 full and part time employees.
Over the last few months, neighbors have seen that a union has been less than warm and welcoming to the incoming restaurant. A large protest banner around the corner from the restaurant, on Calumet Street, says “Shame on Pizza Ranch” and “labor dispute.”
Based on information from fliers passed out by those holding the banner, the North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters funded the protest. The union was apparently not hired on the building project. Union officials did not return calls asking for comment.
Pizza Ranch did not build the structure and does not own it. It leases the building from a developer who constructed the restaurant with both union and nonunion labor.
Starting Monday, the restaurant is open every day from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, see www.pizzaranch.com or call 920-734-8800.
— Maureen Wallenfang: 920-993-1000, ext. 287, or email@example.com; on Twitter @wallenfang