Pizza Ranch a dream come true for Grand Island woman

Grand Island Pizza Ranch (NTV News)

Saddle up for a new restaurant experience, as Pizza Ranch comes to the tri–cities.

It's a day Jessica Kenyon has been dreaming of.

“Two years ago I put it on my dream board that I was going to bring a Pizza Ranch to my hometown of Grand Island. Then I heard some franchisees were looking into GI and I said no, no, no you wait for me,” the co-owner said.

She'd been working for the corporate office, and has now partnered with three veteran franchisees to open this location.

Kenyon said, “We hired a little over 85 employees so we have an incredible staff to service Pizza Ranch, give every guest a legendary experience while they're here.”

Customers like Dale and Gay Crandell have been anxiously awaiting it.

“When I heard it was coming here, I was really excited,” Gay said. The couple said they often visit Pizza Ranch locations on their travels.

Business leaders say Grand Island has a lot of restaurants per capita, and some have closed their doors.

Chamber President Cindy Johnson said, “Restaurants are very challenging. The business is very competitive and if you look at the new companies that have opened up in Grand Island since the Nebraska State Fair and we hit the 50,000 mark we have noticed some growth in that arena. That makes competition very tough.”

The monthly UNL Nebraska business survey shows workers are scarce and consumer confidence has been sluggish.

Johnson says restaurants need a niche.

With its arcade and party rooms, Pizza Ranch may have that.

Marketing Director Shayla Trentman said, “I have three little boys of my own so I know I'll be here a lot with them for sure.”

“It's just something Grand island needed, that family friendly atmosphere but something that kind of gave the excitement as well, it's all about the ride home. That fun zone arcade is going to be a huge hit in Grand island,” Kenyon added.

With an experienced ownership team, and a local partner behind the wheel, the business community welcomes it.

“They have a track record and that speaks volumes so we're looking forward to having them in the community,” Cindy Johnson said.

The building permit was more than $800,000. The property owner says it's a sizable investment.

The restaurant officially opens to the public on Monday, and is located on North Diers in the former Whiskey Creek location.

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