KEARNEY – The Posse is on the Way.
That’s what the sign at 123 Third Ave. in south Kearney’s restaurant and motel district says. And an owner of the franchise restaurant has confirmed it.
Kearney’s Pizza Ranch will open in late summer or early fall.
“Kearney is going to be a fantastic location,” said Dennis Johnson of North Sioux City, South Dakota. The Kearney restaurant will be Johnson’s second Pizza Ranch. His first is in Bemidgi, Minnesota.
Before settling on the Third Avenue site, Johnson said he had been considering purchasing the vacant Ruby Tuesday property at 108 First Ave. in south Kearney. However, Johnson said someone suggested looking at the vacant lot at 123 Third Ave. That property is bordered on the north by the Kearney Canal and on the south by the Quality Inn motel at 121 Third Ave.
Johnson said the 123 Third Ave. property faces Second Avenue on the east, which will give the Pizza Ranch visibility from Kearney’s busiest traffic artery. High visibility and the opportunity to build new were attractive factors, Johnson said, so he opted for the Third Avenue site.
Victory Ventures Kearney LLC – of which Johnson is the managing majority partner – purchased the 2.2 acre tract from Prochaska Land Co. LLC in June 2022 for $565,000, according to Buffalo County courthouse records.
Construction is underway, but bitter winter weather has made the going rough, said Jared Hixson, the site superintendent for Chief Construction. Hixson said the concrete slab is nearly cured and ready for the next phase, which will be erecting the restaurant’s wood skeleton.
Frames for that part of the building are stacked around the site.
Johnson said his Pizza Ranch will encompass 9,066 square feet. Of that space, 2,350 square feet will be dedicated to a Pizza Ranch Fun Zone arcade. The dining section will accommodate community activities such as meetings and birthday parties.
“The restaurant will have quality food. It will be a family centric gathering place,” Johnson said.
Johnson isn’t the only person sold on the Kearney location.
“We’ve always known Kearney would be a strong market,” said Mark Souba, chief development officer for Pizza Ranch. The franchise business is headquartered in Orange City, Iowa, and has 212 restaurants in 14 states.
“We had record performance in 2022, and we continue to grow,” Souba said. He said Pizza Ranch caters to three primary consumer groups: young families, empty nesters and the workday lunch crowd. Carryout makes up about 25% of sales.
Pizza Ranch was born in 1981. The company’s website said the franchise was in expansion mode in 2022 when eight new franchises signed on, bringing the total of units in stages of development to 17.
The website lists several Nebraska cities as available markets: Hastings, Fremont, Scottsbluff and Gering. Buffet items include chicken, salads, sides, desserts and, of course, pizza.
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