Pizza Ranches are rising in the Corridor.
The franchise owner of several Pizza Ranch restaurants is building new locations and adding arcade games to most of his stores.
Brandon Pratt owns and operates locations in Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and Newton as well as two venues in Galesburg and Springfield, Ill.
Pratt recently purchased the Pizza Ranch in North Liberty and is constructing a new Pizza Ranch in Marion.
His restaurant at 2450 Westdale Dr. SW in Cedar Rapids is expanding from 5,725 square feet to just under 10,000 square feet.
“We are adding the FunZone Arcade, Pizza Ranch’s new entertainment model,” Pratt said. “We’re going to have around 30 full-sized redemption games.
“One of the things that we are struggling with right now is we’re constantly turning people away because our party rooms are booked. We’re adding 90 seats and four more party rooms, which will give us a total of six party rooms.”
The additional seating and gaming arcade probably will require adding 10 or 15 employees. That will bring total full- and part-time employment to about 55 people.
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“Construction should end in the beginning of January,” he said. “We will need to install our games, fixtures, furniture and equipment.
“We expect to be open in mid-January.”
While declining to provide the cost of the arcade and building expansion, Pratt said the price tag for the arcade games alone is more than what a start-up restaurant owner spends on equipment.
Pratt opened his first Pizza Ranch in Iowa City in 2006. He recently added 3,000 square feet to the restaurant at 171 Highway 1 W, providing space for 90 more seats and a FunZone Arcade.
The two income streams and attracting a wider variety of customers has been a positive, he said.
“We’ve found that the more games we have, the different demographics we bring in,” he said. “We realized that we had no game options for toddlers, so I’ve increased our FunZone Arcade to 24 games to cater to that group.”
In addition, a 7,600-square-foot Pizza Ranch and FunZone Arcade is under construction at 6053 Carlson Way, in Marion’s Squaw Creek Crossing development. The restaurant will have seating for up to 234 people.
The arcade will have a 1,500-square-foot game room. Four party rooms will accommodate groups of up to 76 people.
Pratt expects to hire a staff of 80 people, with a planned opening in April.
Meanwhile, the Pizza Ranch at 395 Beaver Creek Center in North Liberty is closed for remodeling, with a planned reopening in March.
“We are doing a full on remodel of the entire front of the house and the kitchen,” Pratt said. “We will have 190 seats and a FunZone Arcade room.
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“It will be our new lean design prototype with all of our new colors. We will be hiring about 40 people because it’s a smaller store.”
Mark Souba, chief development officer of Orange City-based Pizza Ranch, said the FunZone Arcades are part of a corporate strategy to boost sales by adding to the customer experience.
“We are dedicated to growing the bottom line for our franchise owners and delivering our guests the best family-friendly experience in the communities we serve,” Souba said. “We have 22 FunZone Arcades in operation and we expect to have 15 more opening within the next year.”
Pizza Ranch has more than 200 locations in 14 states. Souba said some locations will be unable to add the arcades due to space limitations and lack of financial resources to cover the investment.
“Some of our restaurants are located in leased space where there is no opportunity to physically expand,” he added.
With more Pizza Ranch locations in the Corridor, Pratt said he will be able to handle a larger catering order.
“We’ve had times in the past where companies want thousands of pieces of chicken, and that’s tough to pull off,” he said. “Now with four restaurants in the market, that is something we can do fairly easily.”