New Pizza Ranch opens in Brookings


Kara Henning (Owner) and Alisha Hauber (Asst. General Manager) of the new Brookings Pizza Ranch. Photo submitted.

Gracie Terrall, Managing Editor (She/Her)

The new Pizza Ranch and Fun Zone Arcade opened in the Brookings Village Square July 28 to a brisk business that surprised even the owners.

Co-owners, Kara Henning and Ross Olson received the rights to open a Pizza Ranch in Brookings in March 2020 from the corporate office in Iowa. Since then, almost $1.8 million was spent on renovation costs, with $300,00 dedicated to the arcade alone.  

“Delivery vehicles, floors, walls, paint, furniture, everything from head to toe besides the frame (went into the renovations),” said Henning, who was the previous general manager of the Watertown Pizza Ranch.

The previous Pizza Ranch, which was in the same location, closed Feb 28, 2019. The building was torn down shortly after with a brand new building taking its place. The new restaurant seats 210 people indoors and an outdoor patio area seating 50. The menu is the same as other Pizza Ranches that are currently operating. 

A staple of the Brookings Pizza Ranch is the new Fun Zone Arcade, equipped with a variety of games and prizes players can win. Assistant general manager Alisha Hauber said that players load money onto a card that they use to play the games. 

“We choose the games based on population and demographics,” Hauber said. “We have a lot of college students so there are more games like basketball and throwing games. We have two-player games like the Moto VR (virtual reality), so college students can compete.” 

Photo Credits: Gracie Terrall

Along with providing the community with pizza and games, the Brookings Pizza Ranch is involved with multiple fundraising and donation projects. 

As a corporation, Pizza Ranch partners with the Tesfa Foundation to support Ethiopian schools. For every pound of coffee sold, Pizza Ranch donates 50 cents to Ethiopia Reads, a non-profit organization that builds schools and libraries, Hauber said.

Most Pizza Ranches across the Midwest participate in “Community Impact Nights,” and the Brookings location is no exception. On Monday nights, different fundraising organizations like church camps or athletic clubs can help bus tables from 5 to 8 p.m. and earn a percentage of the night’s profit. 

Currently, the Brookings Pizza Ranch has 70 employees including managers, drivers, cooks and front workers, but they are still hiring. The starting wage for employees over the age of 16 is $11 an hour based on experience.

In the first four days of opening, the restaurant had over 2,000 customers. Here are the numbers:

Mon. June 28 (opening day): 549

Tues. June 29: 508

Wed. June 30: 579

Thurs. July 1: 434

“Our sales have been more than we expected, more than corporate even projected,” Hauber said.

An average night at Pizza Ranch typically sells 350 buffets, Henning said.

“We had to get a reefer (large refrigerated container) outside because we can’t fit our food in our fridge and freezer,” Henning said. “We begged for the reefer because you couldn’t walk into our freezer, when you open the door, it was just boxes everywhere.”

Once the opening surge calms down to a more steady pace, the event room will open for birthday party packages. This is slated to begin sometime in August, Henning said.

“I’m most excited for the impact that it could have on this community,” Henning said. “Pizza Ranch was really missed in Brookings and really needed in this community. People love it.”