Deciding where to eat as a family can often feel like a corporate business deal as each member brings their own demands to the dining room table. The kids want pizza, the wife wants salad, the husband chicken.
For Minot families, the decision of where to eat may be simplified when Pizza Ranch opens in September.
"There's not too many places where you can order a bucket of chicken and a pizza for delivery or come in for a buffet-your-way, which has a combination of everything," said Mike Christianson, owner of the new restaurant. "I believe there are two kinds of people: Those who love Pizza Ranch and those who have never eaten there. Pizza Ranch has fantastic food that fits everyone's taste, is great for families and is great for Minot."
Christianson, who owns several apartment properties throughout Minot, said he first fell in love with the franchise after eating at the Watertown, S.D., location when he was a district manager for Radio Shack.
"On the back of the menu they have the locations and in North Dakota they were all in small towns," Christianson said. "But then restaurants opened up recently in bigger cities like Fargo and Mandan and I knew it could work in Minot."
After Christianson spent a year and a half of searching for a suitable location, ground was broken at 305 37th Ave SW in the Joshua Plaza on the north side of Wal-Mart. Construction on the 8,500 square-foot building started this spring and is scheduled to be completed by August.
Short history of Pizza Ranch
Started by 19-year-old Adrie Groeneweg in Hull, Iowa, Pizza Ranch specializes in pizza, chicken and an extensive buffet while providing customers with a variety of dining options including dine-in, buffet, carry-out, delivery and catering. Since its beginnings in 1981, the company has grown to more than 144 restaurants in nine states and is the largest pizza chain in Iowa, Minnesota and the Dakotas. North Dakota has 13 Pizza Ranch restaurants across the state, from Fargo in the east to Beulah in the west and several communities in between.
"I really like the traffic (of the plaza) - 14,000 cars pass by each day - and I feel that this is the direction that Minot is going," Christianson said. "With financial institutions and restaurants like Buffalo Wild Wings springing up recently, this is becoming a major commerce center and I think it will become more so down the line."
At a cost of approximately $650,000, the 5,400 square-foot restaurant will seat 200 people and the remaining 3,100 square-foot space adjacent to the restaurant will be available for lease.
Like the other 13 Pizza Ranch restaurants located in the state, the decor will feature a western theme of lassos, cowboy boots and sheriff badges among other things, but Christianson said he plans to incorporate some of Minot's western history into the decor as well.
Once construction is completed, Christianson said the focus will shift to hiring the 90 employees needed to run the restaurant that will feature dine-in, buffet, carry-out, delivery, catering and party room services.
Although this is Christianson's first venture into the food industry, he said business is business.
"The big job with anything is getting the right people and making the place fun to work at. For a lot of these kids it's going to be their first job and I want to make it a memorable experience," he said. "As for the food part, people in town are excited, but (Pizza Ranch) is so much more than that. It's a great place to eat and bring the family together. It's quick and easy and the customer service is exceptional."