THE EATBEAT: Many choices make eating at Pizza Ranch an adventureFor me, eating at Pizza Ranch was an adventure. I liked the fact that the slices of pizza are narrow enough, so you can try different kinds. There is a wide choice.
By: Marilyn Hagerty, Grand Forks Herald
Pizza comes in all descriptions, but there is far more to eat when you take a trip through the relatively new Pizza Ranch on 32nd Avenue South.
The ranch-style restaurant serves an array of pizza at one center. But there is another with chicken, mashed potatoes and accompaniments on another. And there is a salad bar.
When you prepay for your lunch or dinner, the cost also includes a beverage. Customers can take their choice and come back for more.
For me, eating at Pizza Ranch was an adventure. I liked the fact that the slices of pizza are narrow enough, so you can try different kinds. There is a wide choice. I tend to choose pizza with cheese and pepperoni. The customer favorite is the Roundup with beef, pepperoni, Italian sausage, onions, mushrooms and black olives.
I moved from the pizza table to the salad bar, where I found the canned peach slices appealing along with other typical offerings. I took a half-glass of Sprite. I was glad I didn’t have to pay extra and that I could fill the glass only half-full. Then, I found a comfortable booth where I awaited friends.
I kept eating and found myself going back for more pizza. I completely bypassed the table with chicken, mashed potatoes and vegetables. “Another time,” I told myself.
About the time I thought I was finished eating, I discovered the dessert pizzas. I tried both the blueberry and apple pizza, which was a fine finale. I enjoyed the dessert because it was not sweet and gooey.
Pizza Ranch opened Dec. 12 in the row of shops near Menards. And it has made the large parking lot busier than ever. I had no trouble finding a spot during the noon hour Jan. 26.
In spite of a heavy lunchtime rush, Pizza Ranch seemed orderly. You pay ahead for your meal, which is $8.39 for lunch and $9.45 for dinner. There is a senior price of $7.51 for lunch and $8.45 for dinner. And there are rates for children. Those younger than 8 and accompanied by an adult get a free meal Tuesday evenings.
The restaurant is larger than it seems from the outside. The booths and tables handle most customers, but two party rooms are available if there is a rush.
The decor is in tones of olive green and brown wood. These colors carry over to the carpeting. A western wall mural and other western art help create a pleasant ambience.
General Manager Matt Slater said the restaurant hired 105 full- and part-time employees when it opened. They seem to be comfortable in their roles.
Slater is one of the few restaurateurs I’ve met who invited me into his kitchen. It’s very high-tech with sleek ovens. After a midday rush, it was in only slight disarray.
Slater said the Pizza Ranch concept was born in 1981 in Iowa and traditionally became a franchise in towns of less than 5,000. Though it has grown to 159 locations and into larger towns, Pizza Ranches still play Christian or country music and remain close to their small-town roots.
He said Pizza Ranch has handling a stream of customers down to a routine. Paying in advance removes the congestion of checks and payments at the end of meals. The restaurant has been busiest on hockey nights.
Reach Hagerty at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (701) 772-1055.