Pizza Ranch grand reopening slated for April 15

By Kelly Terpstra,

Clean, modern and friendly.

The new owner of Charles City’s soon-to-reopened Pizza Ranch said the restaurant will be that and more. 

That includes serving ice cream.

New owner Len Jentz will open the doors to his newly remodeled Pizza Ranch on April 15.

“It’s a brand new start,” said Jentz, who also owns the Waverly Pizza Ranch and purchased the Charles City location last December.

The “fast casual” restaurant chain that first opened restaurants in northwest Iowa in the early 80s came to Charles City in 2000. Charles City’s location closed its door this past summer, but Jentz is revamping the store with an extensive makeover.

The Charles City store’s facelift isn’t purely cosmetic, either.

“I really want people to realize is that if they’ve been here in the past and they haven’t had necessarily a good experience, that this is a whole new chapter,” said Jentz.

Jentz said one of the main things he will focus on is friendly service to the customer.

“It’s about treating our guests like we wanted to be treated,” Jentz said. “What we want to do is serve the people of Charles City and we want to be a part of Charles City.”

Jentz said the interior of the restaurant will have a bright and modern look to it.

“We’ve gotten away from the darker colors and the cowboy motif,” said Jentz. “This company is going to be 40 years old in 2021. We’ve changed with the times.”

He has also knocked out the three-quarter wall in the entrance way that surrounded the dining room. That will provide a more open and welcoming dining atmosphere.

“I hope when people walk in the front door, their first reaction is, ‘wow,’” said Jentz.

The main dining room and party room will have carpeting. The main flow through the building will have luxury vinyl tile.

“They look that we’ve got going on is extremely different than what people are used to,” said Jentz.

Jentz had initially hoped for a April 1 grand opening, but the kitchen flooring wasn’t able to be installed until the last week of March.

“Unfortunately, we’re not quite as far along as I had hoped at this point. But we’re actually progressing very nicely,” he said.

Jentz said his son, Dustin, spent a whole month cleaning the kitchen.

“He steam cleaned it,” said Jentz.

Dustin will take over as general manager of the store. He has been general manager at the Iowa City Pizza Ranch for about four years and was manager at Noodles and Co. in Waterloo prior to taking over his father’s store.

Dustin talked about the ninth months that Charles City was without its Pizza Ranch after the location closed this past June.

“Pizza Ranch has an awesome spread. I think that took a big bite out of what you could eat in Charles City when Pizza Ranch went away,” said Dustin.

Dustin said the hot buffet side will have a much cleaner look to it and will have drop-in warmers.

“I care a lot about freshness of food as well as availability,” said Dustin. “Keeping well-stocked, clean buffets is super important to me.”

Jentz said he will begin hiring staff during the middle of this month, when open interviews will be conducted.

“We want a whole new staff in here and people that care about what they’re doing,” said Jentz.

Involvement with the community is another aspect that Jentz wants to focus on with his store. He said developing relationships with schools in town, as well as churches and civic organizations, is very important to running a successful business.

“We want to get fundraisers in here to do the type of work that Pizza Ranch is known for,” said Jentz.

Jentz often gets asked about dessert options that will be available at the new Charles City Pizza Ranch.

“One of the biggest things that I’ve been asked constantly down in Waverly is, are you guys going to have ice cream?’ And the answer is, yes,” laughed Jentz.