Akron Pizza Ranch has new ownership

Posted January 18, 2018 at 8:13 pm

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By Julie Ann Madden

Akron area residents will be happy to learn the Akron Pizza Ranch will be reopening soon.

“It’s family-owned and family-operated now,” said new General Manager Dawn Parks, “because nothing is stronger than family.”

Owners are her brother, Curt Von Hagel and his business partner, Dillion Arends, both of Sioux City.

“It’ll be the Akron Pizza Ranch,” said Parks. “Everything will be the same for the vision: family buffet and pizza. Nothing is changing it from the Pizza Ranch way.”

The phone number will still be 712-568-3506 and the email is AkronPizzaRanch@gmail.com.

“Our biggest vision was family and the community,” said Von Hagel, an Akron-Westfield Class of 1993 alum, who purchased his first Akron business 10 years ago — Brown’s Fertilizer which is now C & C Fertilizing. He has also owned Von Hagel Lawn Care & Landscaping for 18 years.

“Family and community go hand-in-hand,” said Parks, who is an Akron-Westfield Class of 1996 alum. “Families are what sustain the businesses and our family came from the community and surrounding area.”

They can trace their Von Hagel ancestors back to the days of pre-Akron when the town was called Portlandville.

Their parents, Diane and Charles Von Hagel and their brother, Clark and his family, all live in Akron.

“Being born and raised here, Pizza Ranch is a staple of Akron,” said Curt, adding Pizza Ranch has been in the community 27 years. It was one of two restaurants here. The other was Akron Jo’s Cafe.

Pizza Ranch, then owned by Bruce Koele, was the meeting place, he said, noting his favorite Pizza Ranch memory besides a Bronco Pizza with traditional red sauce on original crust, is the “companionship of friends.”

“You’d cruise the loop on a Friday or Saturday night and you’d end up here,” said Von Hagel. “Then you’d decide whether to go to Hawarden or Le Mars, the different communities, to see your other friends but the Akron Pizza Ranch was the meeting place.”

Agreed, said Parks, who can’t wait to serve her favorite: Steak & Onion Pizza with Alfredo sauce on a skillet crust. She worked in the restaurant from 2011 – 2014, starting in the kitchen before being promoted to Night Shift Manager and then to Traveling Trainer.

One of Von Hagel’s high school jobs was snow removal from the Pizza Ranch property — for a Personal Pan Pizza!

Arends, a Sioux City native who graduated from North High School in 2011, fondly remembers meeting his dad, who worked at MCI Inc., at the Sergeant Bluff Pizza Ranch and having his favorite dessert — the cherry Cactus Bread.

“This is just a business opportunity for me,” said Arends, who has worked for C & C Lawn Care the past six years. “To get my foot into the door on how a business operates.”

The Von Hagel siblings already have dubbed him their “brother.”

Von Hagel earned a Business minor from Teikyo Westmar College in Le Mars and an Associate’s Degree from Western Iowa Tech Community College in Golf Course Management and Landscape & Design. He and his wife of 21 years, Kristi, have two children: Hannah and Emma.

Arends earned two Associates degrees in Video Game Design from Western Iowa Tech Community College.

Parks graduated from American Institute of Business with majors in Sales & Marketing and in May 2017, she graduated from Western Iowa Tech Community College with an Associates degree in Administrative Assistant – Medical. She has also been studying Human Resources and Accounting.

“Even though I live in Sioux City, I’ve always been involved through coaching youth wrestling and officiating, buying Brown’s Fertilizer,” said Von Hagel. “It’s giving back and that’s one of our main (reasons for buying the Pizza Ranch).”

“This is a good opportunity for us as a family,” he said. “To reestablish one of the downtown businesses that’s closed and bring back the downtown.”

“It’s the first step of reopening some of the closed businesses,” said Von Hagel.

“We want to bring the kids back downtown,” said Parks who has two teenagers, Charlie and Sydney. “Any age is welcome here. That’s what we are here for –a hangout. Making those memories whether it’s grabbing pizza and a pop and chitchatting or being on their phones and WiFi or coming in with their family and dining with us for buffets or ordering a pizza.”

“Our main focus is our community impact — the face of the community,” said Parks. “Being a part of the community. Hiring the community to help sustain the community.”

“We’re in the process of hiring,” she said. “We have had great response — not only from previous employees but with future Ranch hands. I’m excited to start the chapter of helping the high schoolers with their after-school job, their evening job with a little bit of extra spending money but also make it fun for them.”

“Akron is a wonderful town with a great school system,” said Parks, “and it’s only as strong as our community.”

“It takes a community to make a business run,” said Von Hagel.

As part of the community, the new Pizza Ranch owners have a special spot in their hearts for seniors and military personnel.

“We will have discounts for seniors and military personnel because we have family members who are seniors and served in the military and we have both in our community. It’s important to us to take care of them,” said Parks, noting they will also have Corporate offerings, including Ranch Rewards; Community Impact Night (formerly called Tip Night) fundraisers; and gift cards. “We will honor gift cards.”

People should not be alarmed when they notice the windows covered on the Pizza Ranch storefront — the interior is being changed, she said.

The trio plans to open the doors in February.

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