Saddle up, Pizza Ranch is coming to town

Construction crews were working late into the afternoon Thursday at the site of the future Pizza Ranch in Gillette. There is no target date set for opening yet. (RJ Morgan/County 17)

Many parts of the country are sill struggling or recovering from last winter’s pandemic. Job losses and businesses closing are just two of the affects from COVID-19.

That pain isn’t being felt in Gillette when it comes to eating options. In fact, the economy is growing as a handful of new business have opened their doors to Campbell County in 2021.

That list will be growing by one more soon with the arrival of Pizza Ranch. It’s obviously not the first, second or third pizza chain in town, but it will definitely be the only one of its kind.

The restaurant will be located at 1000 West 2nd Street, between Thunder Basin Ford and Rockpile Museum. It will be be Wyoming’s second Pizza Ranch as Casper has the only other location in the Cowboy State.

Pizza Ranch, which has more than 200 stores in the Midwest, is a buffet-style restaurant designed to feed big crowds, hungry folks and entertain groups of all sizes. Along with dozens of pizzas to choose from, the eatery also serves chicken, dessert and unlimited soft drinks along with a salad bar. For those on the run, carryout and delivery will also be available.

The food is just the beginning. Pizza Ranch is large and spacious for families to gather, complete with community rooms that are available by reservations for team parties, birthdays and all other gatherings.

The icing on the cake is The FunZone, a huge arcade filled with games for all ages which allow players to earn tickets to redeem at the prize booth.

As for when the doors open and jobs are created, a date has not been locked down yet as to whether it will be during the holidays or next year. One thing is for sure, the foundation is down and progress is made daily.

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Every successful story starts with a story. From humble beginnings in a small Iowa town to 200-plus restaurant locations across the Midwest, Pizza Ranch has grown with loyal customers and hard-working franchise owners. Every new location that the company opens or a franchise invest in is just another chapter in this success story.

Humble roots

When Adrie Groeneweg began testing pizza recipes in his parents’ kitchen in the early 1980s, little did he know he was creating a recipe that would result in a resounding business success.

The company’s humble beginnings can be traced to Hull, Iowa, the quaint hometown of Pizza Ranch President and founder, Groeneweg. At age 19, he was dividing his post-high school days between welding and working at a pizza parlor in a nearby town. His curiosity surfaced as he noticed a lot of people from his hometown driving to Sioux Center for supper at the pizza parlor he worked at. He went home at night and shared these observations with his father Bill.

Groeneweg’s dad saw a lot of potential in the pizza business and in his son. His dad found a building on Main Street in that small Iowa town that could be converted into a restaurant and urged his son to open his own pizza place. Dad was also willing to put his own funds on the line. Now the only things that were left were a name and recipes. Groenenweg’s folks came up with the Western theme idea and he created the recipes. Pizza Ranch welcomed its first guest on December 21, 1981.

Key dates in the Pizza Ranch era
History Timeline

1981 – The original Pizza Ranch restaurant opens in Hull, Iowa.

1983 – A second location opens in Orange City, Iowa and the noon buffet is introduced.

1986 – The company’s 5th anniversary and there are 10 Pizza Ranch locations. Also introduces coupon books to help local organizations raise funds, something the company still does today for groups and athletic teams to raise funds.

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1991 – The 10-year anniversary for Pizza Ranch as it has expanded to 52 locations in five states.

1996 – Pizza Ranch celebrates its 15th Anniversary with 80 restaurants.

2003 – The milestone 100th location opens.

2006 – Twenty-five years after the first restaurant opened, Pizza Ranch grows to 135 locations.

2007 – Pizza Ranch outgrows its corporate headquarters original location in Hull, and a new Pizza Ranch Restaurant Support Center is built in nearby Orange City, Iowa.

2017 – Pizza Ranch reaches 200 restaurant locations in 13 states with plans for continued growth.

2018 – The company launches stuffed crust pizza in all of its restaurants.

2020 –  In midst of the pandemic, Pizza Ranch adapts to federal, state, and local health guidelines, temporarily introducing contactless buffets in almost all of locations.

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2021 – For the third year in a row, Pizza Ranch was named in Newsweek’s list for Best Customer Service and No. 1 in the Buffet category.

2021 – Despite the pandemic, Pizza Ranch opens three new locations in June 2021 – Duluth, MN, Brookings, SD, and Champlin, MN – with more Pizza Ranch locations slated to open later in the year including Gillette.

RJ covers community and government news as well as hometown sports for County 17. He has been a photojournalist for the past 25 years in Wyoming, and mostly Texas. RJ has enjoyed a lifetime career in photography and journalism which began in the U.S. Army at Fort Jackson, S.C. where he was in communications. For story ideas and features, contact RJ at