Carrie Rengers

A restaurant chain new to Wichita will open in the west-side space where Tommy’s was

By mid-fall, the former west-side Jimmie’s Diner space will be home to Wichita’s first Pizza Ranch restaurant and fun zone, which will be similar to this one from out of state.
By mid-fall, the former west-side Jimmie’s Diner space will be home to Wichita’s first Pizza Ranch restaurant and fun zone, which will be similar to this one from out of state. Courtesy photo

The former Tommy’s space at 21st and Tyler is going to be home to a new restaurant chain for Wichita.

Doug Wessley, who already has LaMar’s Donuts and Cold Stone Creamery franchises in Wichita, is opening a Pizza Ranch there.

Most recently, Jimmie’s Diner has been at the site, and Ciao Italian Kitchen was there before that. The two restaurants had been in only 4,500 square feet of the former Tommy’s space, though.

Now, Pizza Ranch will take the entire 7,500 square feet that Tommy’s once had.

Wessley says he’s going to need it.

The restaurant will be in about 6,000 square feet, and there will be a fun zone — think high-tech gaming — in 1,500 square feet.

“It’s very family oriented,” Wessley says.

His own large family, including 16 grandchildren, was part of the inspiration.

“If we all try to go eat somewhere, it’s just not happening,” Wessley says.

He says lots of Pizza Ranch’s tables hold eight or more people. There are also two large banquet rooms.

Though “pizza” is in the Pizza Ranch name, the restaurant has a lot more than that, Wessley says.

The buffet concept has three buffets: one for pizza, one for salad and one that Wessley says is “just a big hot food bar.”

There’s chicken, gravy, mashed potatoes and other items. The restaurant also offers ice cream and dessert pizzas.

“So we cover it all.”

Wessley says he used to go to the Pizza Ranch in Hutchinson to eat.

“The chicken’s just incredible.”

After establishing his first two franchises, Wessley says he then took a couple of years to study Pizza Ranch to decide if it was right for him to do next.

The Iowa-based chain has more than 200 sites nationally.

“They very much care about people,” Wessley says.

He thought that was the right fit for him.

“We’ll be very active in the community.”

Broker Marc Knowles, who now is with CBRE, handled the deal while he was at Landmark Commercial Real Estate.

Wessley has three LaMar’s sites and three Cold Stone Creamery sites.

“We still have the potential to grow LaMar’s. There’s lots of areas of Wichita to grow.”

Wessley says there’s a potential to open more Pizza Ranch sites, too.

First, he says, he has to get the initial one established. It should be open by early November at the latest.

Carrie Rengers has been a reporter for almost three decades, including 16 years at The Wichita Eagle. Her Have You Heard? column of business scoops runs five days a week in The Eagle. If you have a tip, please e-mail or tweet her or call 316-268-6340.

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