In part, Madsen owns local Pizza Ranch spot

Posted May 26, 2010 at 1:49 pm


By Eric Viccaro


When Hull resident Tony Madsen was a high school sophomore in 1999, he began working at Pizza Ranch as a dishwasher.

Now Madsen is part-owner of the place.

On Saturday, May 1, Madsen officially became 25 percent owner of the original Pizza Ranch location.

“I worked here as a sophomore, junior and senior in high school,” Madsen said. “I thought this was an opportunity for me. I’m very happy where I’m at I guess. The offer was talked about for the last few months. We discussed it and it made sense. I’m happy with what I’m doing and this is where I want to stay.”

Madsen disclosed his ownership investment is six figures large.

Pizza Ranch first opened its doors on Dec. 21, 1981, started by Hull resident and current company president Adrie Groeneweg.

Now the midwestern fast-casual food chain has about 145 stores in nine states and the company continues expansion.

Madsen first became general manager of the Hull Pizza Ranch in May 2007 — after spending one year working in the collections department for Wells Fargo Bank in Sioux Falls, S.D., and six months as assistant manager at the Pizza Ranch in Orange City.

For Madsen, business has always been at the very heart of his interests.

Madsen took business courses at Boyden-Hull High School, graduating from here in 2001. At Northwestern, Tony was in the business club and he also had an internship at Harris Bank in Chicago at a credit monitor.

After that fateful year in South Dakota, Madsen realized the highfaluting banking industry wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be.

“I needed to be talking to people more,” Madsen admitted. “I love interacting with people every day. This is not the same old job. It’s something new every day. I like taking care of guests and making sure they are satisfied.”

Madsen graduated from Northwestern as a double major in business finance and business administration. He met his wife, Abby, at the college in Orange City and the couple has a newborn son, Aiden.

That business background has been a boon for Madsen.

“It’s been a huge help,” he said. “I use marketing strategies I learned in college. I’m able to analyze the business up and down. It’s also about the management of people, day in and day out.”

The Pizza Ranch in Hull employes 30-35 people, with night staff mainly comprised of students from Boyden-Hull, Western Christian and Trinity Christian High Schools.

Pizza Ranch has undergone several changes since Madsen took over as general manager.

The buffet menu was expanded from three to six days per week.

“It was the best decision I made,” Madsen said. “People want food and they want it fast. That’s why they like buffet and why it’s popular.”

Last fall, Ice cream was added as a dessert items for buffet customers. In addition, a plasma television was installed for diners that want to catch up on action in the sports world.

In the kitchen, two new chicken broasters were purchased. Pizza Ranch bought a refurbished pizza oven, a new sandwich-making table, warming units and a second point-of-sale system to expedite the ordering process.

The store underwent extensive remodeling in 2008 from drab green to its current brown western flair.

As general manager, Madsen reports for work at 7:30 a.m. He checks the previous day’s sales and he makes sure the books are level.

Then, Madsen covers inventory and he starts the skillets at 8 a.m. Chicken must be prepared two hours before the buffet opens at 11 a.m. The salad bar is set up. Table caddies are filled with napkins, salt and pepper.

During the early afternoon, the cycle begins again with clean-up and a second round of preparation.

Madsen has done an exemplary job at Pizza Ranch. The Hull location leads the entire chain in employee retention. The restaurant was first in EQ in its sales division during 2009. Sales continue gaining here as well.

As part of the job, Madsen must attend district meetings at the Pizza Ranch’s corporate offices in Orange City.

So, what’s on the horizon at Pizza Ranch?

Starting June 7, the new featured salad will be called “Farmer’s Market,” with a wide array of fresh vegetables and bacon bits. A new pizza will debut as well, a barbecue bacon cheeseburger delight with red onions and pickles that has tested well.

The Pizza Ranch NASCAR will also appear in Hull during Summerfest in July.

Hull Pizza Ranch general manager Tony Madsen stands in front of one the pizza ovens on Tuesday, May 18. Madsen now has 25 percent ownership of the restaurant. Photo by Eric Viccaro, Sioux County Index-Reporter