Elkader Pizzeria: New owner expands hours, menus

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Bryton Rentschler recently purchased the former JNJ’s Pizza, which he had renamed Elkader Pizzeria.

By Pam Reinig

Register Editor

 

W

hen Elkader businessman and mayor Josh Pope was ready to sell JNJ pizza, he didn’t have to look far for a new owner. His longtime manager, Bryton Rentschler, was ready to take on the restaurant where he’d worked for more than seven years.

“It was always a dream of mine to own a place like this,” Bryton said. “I was pretty surprised that it happened when it did but I was ready.”

Pope, who had been part of JNJ since 2004, admitted that parting with the business was tough. But, he added, “knowing someone would carry on the great pizza tradition and even expand on it” made his decision easier.

Bryton is a Volga native and a 2009 Central High School graduate. He started working for Pope in 2011 and became manager in 2013. His parents, Scott and Becci Rentschler, still make their home in Volga. Becci is an integral part of the restaurant, which her son opened earlier this month under the new name Elkader Pizzeria. She gets credit for suggesting that Bryton add early morning hours and a breakfast menu. Mornings on Main at the Elkader Pizzeria serves a variety of sandwiches, wraps and treats from 6:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. One of the most unique menu items is a carryover from Becci’s employment at Pedretti’s Bakery. It’s a glazed doughnut split in half to make room for an egg, sausage patty and cheese.

“I’m not sure where the idea came from,” Becci admitted. “I guess it’s because the doughnut is the right size and shape for a breakfast sandwich. I’ve used glazed doughnuts to make French toast so I knew there were other ways to enjoy them.”

Bryton also added lunch hours to his schedule. In addition to the regular menu, he offers one pasta specialty a day. His goal is to serve a good lunch that “gets people in and out the door in 30 minutes.”

Of course, pizza will remain the mainstay of his operation. The restaurant has a loyal following and Bryton says that’s one reason he was attracted to the business.

“What I like best about this business is getting to know the customers,” he said. “We have a lot of regulars and they were so supportive when we had to close (during the food and liquor license approval process). It was really great to have people stop by and tell us how happy they were that we’d opened up again.”

Bryton has a few more changes planned. He’ll soon offer a gluten-free pizza crust, new flavors like garlic, Parmesan, chicken pizza, and a party room that he’s crafting from space at the rear of the restaurant.

According to the Small Business Association, Bryton is a bit of an anomaly. At age 27, he’s nearly two decades younger than the average age of small-business owners, which the SBA places at just over 50. However, he’s part of a growing trend in Northeast Iowa of business owners well under the SBA average. Over the summer months, the Register will publish a series of Business Spotlights on other enterprises headed by young people.

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