Pizza Ranch in Austin set to open

Published 1:38 pm Saturday, June 25, 2011

AUSTIN — On the fourth go-around, Mike and Lisa De Boer have the restaurant game down.

Construction is under way and the De Boers hope to open their Austin Pizza Ranch, 1300 18th Ave. NW, by July 5. Mike, a school psychologist in the Fairmont School District, and Lisa, with years of restaurant managerial experience, also own the Pizza Ranch restaurants in Fairmont, Stewartville and Mankato.

“It’s been interesting,” Mike said of the business venture. “My wife, she’s the one with restaurant experience.”

Email newsletter signup

The Austin Pizza Ranch will be their largest and one of the biggest in the chain of 155 stores, Mike said. At 6,800 square feet, the restaurant seats 220 and utilizes the southwest corner of what used to be Cash Wise Foods. Only taking up one fifth of the building, there was plenty of room to spread out, Mike said, allowing extra room for the pizza and chicken buffet and a large party room.

The De Boers co-own the Austin, Stewartville and Mankato locations with Brent and Denise Tjeerdsma and Ryan and Marsha Achterhoff, and the Fairmont store with the Tjeerdsmas. The Fairmont location was their first, opening about four years ago, they bought the Stewartville restaurant two years ago and built the Mankato building a year and half ago. While the team has experience in the business game, financing was a bit of a challenge this time, Mike said.

“It’s been more difficult to get financing than it has been historically,” Mike said.

The De Boers scouted Austin about two years ago, but the economy was in a bit of a slump, Mike said.

“But within the last year, (Austin) has become more vibrant,” he said. “Hormel is doing really well right now, and the community fits with what we want to do.”

Mike said they also look forward to giving back to the community, working with local churches, schools and sports teams to host fundraisers.

“Pizza Ranch has historically been community-oriented,” he said. “We work well with various nonprofit groups, schools and various fundraising activities.”