Local News: Pizza Ranch welcomes new general managers (9/1/21)

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(Sentinel Photo by Beverly Van Buskirk)
Aaron and Stacy Houghton, back from left, are the new co-general managers of the Le Mars Pizza Ranch. With them are their children, from left, Isabelle, Montana and David Allen.

LE MARS — Patrons of the Le Mars Pizza Ranch are seeing new faces at the downtown restaurant.

Aaron and Stacy Houghton came to Le Mars in late April as the new general managers of the establishment and began their work on April 28.

The couple came from Indianola, where they also co-managed the Pizza Ranch.

Aaron has been associated with Pizza Ranch for nearly eight years, while Stacy has been with the franchise about six years.

Aaron was the assistant general manager in Indianola.

His path to Le Mars came via owner Tyler Sickles, who asked if he would like to run a Pizza Ranch and that the Le Mars location was available.

Le Mars Pizza Ranch Manager Amanda Ruden is now general manager of the Pizza Ranch in Council Bluffs.

The couple, along with Stacy’s three children, moved to Le Mars so the three could have a month of school at Le Mars Community under their belts. David is a senior, Montana is a junior and Isabelle is in 8th grade.

David and Montana also work with their parents at the establishment.

“Le Mars is a very interesting town to me,” Aaron said.

His only previous stop in Le Mars was an overnight stay for a Pizza Ranch franchise Christmas party.

“I didn’t even find out it was the Ice Cream Capital of the World until Stacy told me,” he said.

They moved from a town of 15,000 to one of about 10,000, a smallish town.

“What got me was the wide streets and the big trees, and for 10,000 people, just the diversity of culture and people within Le Mars is astounding to me,” Aaron said.

While Stacy grew up on a farm near Curlew, Aaron was born in Georgia, and moved to Iowa in 1991, and then back to Georgia before returning to Iowa eight years ago.

Aaron and Stacy say they like working together.

“There is a lot to do,” Aaron said. “You have buffet, delivery, pickup, all the administrative work. It’s nice to have someone you trust who bears the load.”

They also like the fact that the Pizza Ranch is housed in an old bank, complete with the bank vault and plenty of history.

Aaron said people even come in asking for a tour, knowing of its bank history.

He also likes to visit with customers, and made a connection with one who had done renovations on the house the family bought.

They have already done several things in support of community projects, including for the police and fire departments, the Plymouth County Fair, and Gehlen Catholic Schools.

“We look forward to taking this Pizza Ranch to new heights, and giving good service and really impacting the community with it,” Aaron said.

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