Marilyn Mayberry heads Iowa-based Pizza Ranch’s development team. The Western-themed buffet concept operates 151 stores in nine states, and it has plans to open up to 14 new locations this year despite a tough economical climate.
Q. Pizza Ranch is slated to open more than a dozen stores. Why such an aggressive growth plan?
A. We are projecting to have a 10-percent store growth, which would be 14 stores. … I just think it’s a healthy growth. There’s a lot of excitement around our brand and it’s a unique concept with great-tasting food. We have an unrivaled guest experience that is fun, and it appeals to a broad range of guests. The big part about our concept is we’re so received in communities because we really want to support the communities of which we are a part.
Q. Why expand in a time when many companies are tightening the reigns?
A. We are franchise derived. We have all 151 restaurants franchised. We are doing well. We continue to have interest in expansion, so it’s not like we’re going to turn that down.
Q. As you grow, how important is consistency across the brand?
A. Consistency is very important, and we have standards in place. We work very hard to provide that consistent experience, whether it is in the food, the guest experience or the décor because, yeah — consistency is what franchising expects.
Q. You are focusing on Midwestern expansion. Are there future plans to expand outside of that region?
A. We would like to grow out from the states that we’re in. There are some states that we’re going to have opportunities for development, but as we continue to grow, we will expand out from where we are.
Q. Pizza Ranch’s concept combines pizza with menu items not typically found in a pizzeria. Why such diversity?
A. People do rave about our fried chicken. With a name like ‘Pizza Ranch,’ you may not expect to find chicken on the menu, but word soon got out. … That is trademarked. To accompany that part of the buffet, we have vegetables and potatoes. People love that, but of course they love our pizza. The salad bar is just beautiful. We have lots of choices. We do offer quarterly changes of our featured salads … and we have a featured pizza as well. … By popular demand, some of the featured pizzas become regular menu items. So, yeah, it’s a buffet concept, but it’s so much more.