Pizza Ranch owners cut ribbon on new Rhinelander restaurantSubmitted: 10/10/2018
Lane Kimble
Lane Kimble
News Director

Pizza Ranch owners cut ribbon on new Rhinelander restaurant
RHINELANDER - A fully staffed kitchen cranking out fresh, hot food on Wednesday morning gave Bill Hoffmann confidence in the plan he and his wife hatched long ago.

"We're ready to go!" Hoffmann said.

Seven years after Hoffmann and his wife stopped at a Pizza Ranch in Iowa as customers, the couple cut the ribbon on their own 5,000 square foot restaurant in Rhinelander.

"When they started painting the walls and putting up the signage, that's when it was, yeah, this is it, this is actually happening," Cory Hoffmann said.

The Hoffmanns got city approval for the restaurant next to Kwik Trip on Eisenhower Parkway last fall, broke ground this spring, and watched construction progress through the summer while working through some building delays.

Hoffmann says the hardest part was hiring and training the 85 employees who come from Rhinelander and communities like Crandon and Eagle River.

"To a lot of people, this is going to be like a second home," Hoffmann said. "It's almost going to be like going to grandma's house for Thanksgiving dinner or something, and we can do that every day of the week."

All those new hires got put to the test Wednesday, with the first of two "soft openings" free to people with coupons. Retired teacher and now Pizza Ranch employee Susan Grekso wants to make sure she gets all of those customers to come back and bring their friends.

"Word of mouth is a strong, strong advertiser," Grekso said.

The restaurant should also get a boost from joining the Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce. The Hoffmanns did so months before they were ready to open. The Chamber was happy to add another restaurant to its nearly 370 members.

"They're all different, they all have something different to offer, different environments, different menus," RACC Executive Director Lauren Sackett said.

The Hoffmanns know their restaurant certainly fits that billing. Now, they're ready to show people why this dream was worth the wait.

"Build everything around the community and not just be a restaurant," Hoffmann said. "We want to be a very integral part of the community."

The Hoffmanns will hold one more "soft opening" on Thursday. Pizza Ranch will fully open to the public Monday at 11 a.m.

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What We're Working OnSubmitted: 10/16/2018

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

We'll tell you about a petition from a group of Crandon business owners who want the DOT to pay for work on sidewalks the businesses believe are flawed, and we'll get a response from the DOT.

We'll show you a new training program from Nicolet College designed to help local fire stations recruit more volunteers.

And we'll bring you a preview of a series on the 34th Never Forgotten Honor Flight where several veterans from our area tell about their wonderful experiences on the trip.

We'll bring you the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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BARRON - Update:

Authorities say a Wisconsin teenager who has been missing since her parents were found dead in their home isn't a runaway and that they think she's in danger.

Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said during a media briefing Tuesday that he can't reveal why authorities believe 13-year-old Jayme Closs is in danger because it could compromise the investigation. But he repeated his plea for the public's help in finding her.

Deputies responding to a 911 call found the bodies of 56-year-old James Closs and 46-year-old Denise Closs at around 1 a.m. Monday in their home in the western Wisconsin town of Barron. No cause of death has been released but authorities said gunshots had been fired.

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Both victims were younger than 12 years old.

LeVasseur, now 52, has served his time in prison, and next Thursday, he'll move into a home deep in the Forest County woods.

"The law says they gotta come back. We gotta find a place. That's what we're doing," said Forest County Board Chairman Tom Tallier.

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Students in 18 counties from fourth to eighth grade can participate.

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RHINELANDER - People living in Rhinelander will see something new waiting at their curbs this winter.  It's a big change for garbage and recycling that the provider expects everyone to love.

Rhinelander awarded Eagle Waste and Recycling the city's new solid waste disposal contract on Oct. 8.  Forty-eight-gallon garbage bins and 96-gallon recycling bins replace the Advanced Disposal bins on January 1, 2019.  

Rhinelander is the 75th municipality the Eagle River-based company will manage.

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WISCONSIN RAPIDS - The Wood County Sherrif's Department confirmed the death of a 41-year-old female inmate.

During the early morning hours of October 14, Jennifer Carrick died while in custody of the Wood County Jail.

Carrick was arrested and brought in by another agency 4 hours before she died.

The inmate was reported by cellmates to be in medical duress, and staff along with EMS attempted to save her life.

An initial investigation indicates an accidental death as Carrick concealed an unknown substance in a body cavity and later ingested the substance.

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