After months of extensive remodeling, Arkansas City’s new Pizza Ranch opened its doors Wednesday to a select group of local residents. I was fortunate enough to be invited and was allowed to bring a guest.
My wife and I climbed into our trusty steed and headed to out to the ranch. The parking lot was jammed with cars, so we parked way out in the south 40 and made our way across the concrete prairie to the front door.
The place was amazing. I could not believe the transformation that had taken place inside that building. The decor was bright, attractive and well laid-out. Everything just sparkled. As I waited in line, the aroma of the food made my mouth water with anticipation.
Owners Brandon and Sarah Jellings made everyone feel welcome, and were rightfully proud of their new business. He told us that the special invitation only event was a training exercise, designed to help his employees know what to expect and how to handle the super busy times. When the lines are long, an attendant will take names and call each party as tables become available.
While the place was packed with people Wednesday, I’m sure it won’t compare to the number of people who will make their way to the ranch on opening day.
The selection of food on the buffet was almost overwhelming. With so many choices, I found it hard to decide what to eat first. There were many different kinds of pizza, a desert bar, a salad bar, and then there was the chicken. I can’t say enough about the chicken.
I have to agree with Brandon, the pizza is awesome, but the chicken is legendary. Not only was it piping hot and delightfully crispy, it was juicy and so tender that it was actually falling off the bone.
Along with the excellent chicken, I discovered some potato wedges that I could not get enough of. Super crunchy on the outside, but the inside was like a serving of mashed potatoes. The buffet also featured mashed potatoes, stuffing, biscuits, and so much more. Everything was fresh, hot and delightful, and the attendants kept it well stocked.
For my wife who is gluten intolerant, the restaurant employees went above and beyond in their efforts to meet her needs. They made a special pizza just for her, and gave her a timer so she would know exactly when it would be ready. They brought it to her in a box, so she could take it home.
I can’t tell you anything about the salad bar or the desert bar. I ate so much of that amazing chicken and those delicious potato wedges that I simply could not eat another bite. Much to my dismay, I had to pass up desert and they had deserts that were hard to walk away from. The next time I visit, I might have to start with the desert first and save the chicken for last.
The Pizza Ranch also features a Fun Zone game room. That place is amazing. With all of the colored lights, it felt like a cross between the midway of a large carnival and a casino. I don’t know much about electronic games, but I know that area will be a hit with the younger generation. I noticed that many of the games also allowed the players to win prizes.
Parents won’t have any trouble getting their kids to go play those games, but they might have problem parents getting their children to leave that area long enough to eat.
The official opening date for the restaurant is Dec. 30. Based on what I saw today, I predict long waiting lines, and a shortage of parking places. You might have to walk a short distance and stand in line for a while, but it will be worth the wait.
With the quality of the food, the reasonable prices, the high-tech game room, and the pleasant atmosphere, Pizza Ranch will be a wonderful addition to Arkansas City. I’m already looking forward to my next visit. There are so many tasty things I want to sample that I missed on this visit. But first I have to get past that chicken, that wonderful, crispy, tender chicken.