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People in Business: Fun Zone to take Wadena’s Pizza Ranch experience to new heights

If a legendary pizza buffet isn't enough you'll soon have access to an epic arcade area in this downtown mainstay.

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Zack Kelderman is preparing for a Fun Zone grand opening in September 2022.
Michael Johnson / Pioneer Journal
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WADENA — The way Zack Kelderman sees it, there’s nothing around that can offer the same experience as what Wadena’s Pizza Ranch is about to offer.

“This solidifies Pizza Ranch ahead of the competition,” Kelderman said. “There is nothing like a full buffet and arcade concept.”

The restaurant is undergoing a transformation of one of its party room areas to add a nearly 1,500 square foot Fun Zone. And what’s in that Fun Zone has got the community buzzing. Kelderman, the business operator for the last eight years, is busily preparing for a 21 game system that will be installed in the first week in September. At any point the games will allow up to 34 people to be playing at a time.

“Most of the games, you earn tickets on,” Kelderman said.”The prizes range from candy to lava lamps, kayaks, Playstation 5s, everything and anything in between. It is for all ages, too.”

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Virtual reality, coin pushers, a claw machine, basketball, ski ball and more await those on a grand opening of the Wadena Pizza Ranch Fun Zone.
Contributed by Tim Mazzaferro Photography

You'll find games that have a nostalgic feel, like ski ball, as well as some of the most advanced virtual reality games now on the scene. Some games hearken back to the days of Frogger, while others involve air compressors and fans to give the feeling you are soaring through the sky.

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Flashing lights, hundreds of prizes and plenty of ways to win will be hard to miss as it's all visible from Wadena’s Jefferson Street. Kelderman has tried out almost all of the games and says there are some games that kids and adults will have trouble walking away from. Lucky for them, the Fun Zone will be open six days a week, right along with the open hours of the restaurant.

The Fun Zone will employ one full time employee and in the busier times several employees will be needed to serve those visiting this area.

Another neat feature of this Fun Zone is that those visiting can get a card or wristband that can be reloaded for users to keep going back to play the games. As you win, you can keep adding up your tickets to redeem later for bigger prizes.

Kelderman said this project has been a long time coming. He had a plan in place to get this off the ground back in March of 2020, which happened to be the month that COVID pretty much shut down any gatherings. After going through two closures that had the business only able to offer pickup and delivery, things have opened up and allowed for fairly normal operation. The shutdowns and closures really called to question if something like this would even be possible. Thankfully they are confidently moving to be able to provide a unique experience for large groups of people to have a blast together.
"It's a good size investment but I want to provide not only entertainment but I want to provide a concept where you can go and eat whatever you want, and go and play in a giant arcade. I want to do as much as I can to try to enhance the Pizza Ranch concept."

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Here's the inside of one of Pizza Ranch's Fun Zones. Expect a lot to look at and plenty of fun.
Contributed photo

Before the games can be installed, Goddard Construction out of Verndale will be continuing to remodel the interior space to be ready. Sheetrock was going up in mid-July with a bright carpet to be coming in next. Kelderman gave praise to Goddard Construction for their impressive work on this remodel job.

Wadena’s Pizza Ranch, back in the early days, also had an arcade in the basement where there is still a party room. Those that can remember back that far may remember a little pony you could ride, and a few arcade games tucked into, kind of an oversized closet. That was fun at the time, but this new game area will blow that one out of the water.

This project, which normally might take a few months to complete has stretched out to about eight months as materials are often not readily available. It’s a similar situation for the games. Kelderman said while it might have taken six weeks pre-COVID, games are now six months out.

When all is said and done this will be a happening place, Kelderman believes. The Wadena Fun Zone will have a similar amount of games as the Perham location, however you can expect some differences in the game systems.

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"The Fun Zone arcade enhances the Pizza Ranch experience," Kelderman said.

The Pizza Ranch Fun Zone is something that the franchise has been working to add to all locations that have room for it. Any new establishment must have a Fun Zone. Adding a Fun Zone just makes sense, according to Kelderman.

Kelderman has set a grand opening for the Fun Zone on Sept. 10, 2022. It will be right after school is back in session and should offer an added draw to Wadena’s downtown. Darren and Kandi Kelderman have owned the business since June 1988. This will be an addition that will enhance Pizza Ranch’s brand in the community for many more decades to come.

Related Topics: WADENAPEOPLELOCAL BUSINESS
He's a writer, editor, photographer, truth seeker and promoter of the Wadena area.
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