Bringing back the Pizza Ranch - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Bringing back the Pizza Ranch

DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- For about a year, Dubuque's Pizza Ranch sat empty, right behind Paul Hoecker's house.

Back in November, Hoecker, a professional chef, saw an ad in the newspaper looking for a new owner. It was then he decided to be a part of bringing back the ranch.

He signed the papers in February and immediately started getting the ball rolling with contractors and corporate training.

"It wasn't any grand scheme or grand plan. It was just a matter of looking at an empty building in my backyard practically, and saying, you know, something needs to go in over there," Hoecker said.

Hoecker left the world of cooking at country clubs and owning a high end Italian restaurant ten years ago.

"My son at the time was just a little guy, 4 years old, and I never saw him. Now, he's 14, and he's going to work here with me, and my wife's going to work here with me. It's going to be a nice family venture," Hoecker said.

Another part of Hoecker's comeback: winning a battle with leukemia.

"You have a whole new outlook on life. You see challenges, like time frames for getting a restaurant open as being something that, yeah, I can overcome that, I'll get that. I think everything that could have happened bad has happened, and as a family, we've beaten it, so I think as a family, we can slam dunk this," Hoecker said.

That's Hoecker's main idea: bringing families and the community together.

"Usually Pizza Ranch's are in real small communities, and they're pretty much the central hub of that community," Hoecker said.

Hoecker already has plans to help local schools, sports teams, nonprofit organizations, and churches do fundraising events. He says he will do "tip nights" where local organizations can bus tables for tips and 10% of the night's total.

The "new posse" plans to open the Dubuque Pizza Ranch sometime in April.

Hoecker has already hired some managers, but he's hiring 75 new employees this week. To see the job listings, click here.

Online Reporter:  Jamie Grey

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