The ground is officially broken for the newest Pizza Ranch in the area. 7855 Harkness Ave. S. in Cottage Grove is the spot that Ernie Swanson and his family have chosen to build a Pizza Ranch. Left to right, Nate Mears of Lake Elmo Bank, Senator Karla Bigham, Mayor Myron Bailey, Ernie Swanson, Representative Tony Jurgens and Bryan Kemnetz of Lake Elmo Bank break ground on the new site. Photo by Bruce Karnick
Cottage Grove to get Minnesota’s newest Pizza Ranch

By Bruce Karnick

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Area pizza lovers can rejoice because Cottage Grove will be home to the next Pizza Ranch location. Owner Ernie Swanson and the City of Cottage Grove have been working on an agreement and a site for Swanson to build a Pizza Ranch. The Pizza Ranch will be located next to Muddy Cow at 7855 Harkness Avenue South.

“We started back in 2019,” explained Swanson. “We kept putting it off because costs rose so much. This is our fourth go around with trying to start to get a Pizza Ranch in the ground here. This time the costs got higher than ever, and I just finally said we’re going to do it anyway. I think with the excitement that we have in Cottage Grove, is going to be very successful. We have one in in Oak Park Heights and every week we have five or six people asking when are you going to open in Cottage Grove?”

Mayor Myron Bailey could not contain his excitement, “We are finally here to do an official groundbreaking for Cottage Grove’s very own Pizza Ranch. We are obviously very excited to have the continued growth within our community. One of the big things that a lot of citizens have been telling us is they want more places, they want more options and what was really interesting is, in a lot of the information that we get back from the public, one always kept coming to mind and it was Pizza Ranch. We’ve been joking with Ernie here a little bit about the fact that it’s either Pizza Ranch, White Castle, IHOP or Kwik Trip.”

The interesting piece to the four businesses that Mayor Bailey listed is that Swanson owns franchises for two of them, Pizza Ranch and IHOP. Swanson did point out there has been no discussion of brining an IHOP to the area because his wife, who helps manage the businesses, said ‘no’ Swanson joked.

The groundbreaking ceremony completed with pizza samples from the Oak Park Heights store. For those that have never been to a Pizza Ranch, pizza is not the only thing they serve. They have a large pizza buffet and a large salad bar, along with delicious fried chicken. The chicken bar has other appropriate sides on it that change frequently. The chicken and pizza are both good quality, great tasting products so much so there are arguments that they should be called ‘chicken ranch’ according to some.

Work began Monday on the site and there is no official open date scheduled yet. The supply chain issues for acquiring restaurant equipment being the main culprit. Something the area should be used to by now with the delays that Hastings experienced around the reopening of Perkins. When a date is established, we will update you.

In the meantime, if you would like to support the Swanson family businesses, you can head to the Pizza Ranch in Oak Park Heights for the closest Pizza Ranch location.

September 21, 2022