|Founded||Hull, Iowa, U.S. (1981)|
|Headquarters||Orange City, Iowa, U.S.|
|Adrie Groeneweg, co-founder
Lawrence Vander Esch, co-founder
The Pizza Ranch, Inc., founded in 1981, is a "fast casual" restaurant chain. Pizza Ranch offers pizza, chicken, a salad bar, and a pizza and chicken buffet. Pizza Ranch has over 200 locations in Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Pizza Ranch is the largest regional pizza franchise in Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
The first restaurant opened December 21, 1981, in Hull, Iowa. The six original house pizzas were the Roundup (deluxe), Sweet Swine (Hawaiian), Texan Taco, Bronco (meat lover's), Prairie (veggie lover's) and Sagebrush. Initially, Pizza Ranch only offered a Tuesday night buffet, while the rest of the dining hours were for take-out or dine-in orders. The second Pizza Ranch opened in Orange City in 1983, where the first noon buffet was introduced. In 1987, with the addition of a Sioux City restaurant, the menu expanded to offer chicken.
Pizza Ranch has grown over the years and now has franchises in thirteen states. Pizza Ranch's specialties are their pizza and chicken. Their headquarters, formerly located in Hull, Iowa, is currently located in Orange City, Iowa.
In 2012, Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney refused to eat at Pizza Ranch because of the co-founders history of molesting minors. Romney's strategist David Kochel cited Vander Esch's conviction as the reason why the candidate would not eat at the restaurant.
Lawrence Vander Esch, one of the co-founders Pizza Ranch, pleaded guilty in 2001 to molesting at least three teenage boys. It is thought his crimes occurred over a period of at least 19 years. He was denied parole in 2005 after testimony from one of his victims stating that Vander Esch duped young boys by asking them for sperm in an experiment he was conducting.
In March 2016, Pizza Ranch was linked to an E-Coli outbreak, stemming from their dessert offerings. Subsequently, lawsuits were filed by victims and their families; one of the victims being an eight-year-old girl from Nebraska.
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