Sam Stigen became the new owner of Pizza Pub in Braham beginning Jan. 1, 2021.
Stigen said he began thinking about purchasing the restaurant in November 2019 and initially aimed to buy it sometime in 2020. But he’s glad it didn’t go as planned, due to the pandemic and the economy. So when 2021 rolled up, it was time to purchase, he said.
“The franchise is very easy to work with,” Stigen said. “We met with the franchise owner, who I’ve got to know over the last couple of years. Great people to work with and for and very supportive.
“It’s kind of nerve-wracking,” he continued talking about his experience owning a business for the first time. “It’s nice, though, because with the franchise comes advertising and word of mouth, and we have a good reputation for the most part. So I’m just happy to be part of it.”
Stigen had been working for Pizza Pub since 2013, around the time he graduated from high school, he said.
“I started as a summertime gig, and they worked with my schedule really well,” Stigen said. “And I just continued to work here as I was going to college.”
Stigen graduated from Braham High School and went on to finish his general education at Anoka-Ramsey Community College in Cambridge. He then transferred to St. Cloud State University to obtain his business degree in marketing and sales in 2018.
In the early days of working at Pizza Pub, Stigen worked in the kitchen, making pizza, washing dishes, preparing all the vegetables, meats and other ingredients, he said. As he was finishing up his general education and bachelor’s degree, Pizza Pub worked with his schedule, giving hours during the weekends, he said.
Eventually, he worked his way up to managing Pizza Pub for about four and a half years.
“And then the opportunity came to purchase. So, I jumped on board,” Stigen said alluding to when the right time of owning Pizza Pub approached.
Stigen explained that it was Eric and Angie Rysdam, previous owners of Braham Pizza Pub, who sold the restaurant to him.
“They opened a Princeton store (Pizza Pub) a couple of years ago. And then after that started going, they were willing to sell it to me because I’ve been here a long time and they said they didn’t want to sell to anyone else,” Stigen said.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Pizza Pub was only doing to-go and delivery options, and the hours of operations were affected, Stigen said.
“Most of our employees are high school students, and they did very well throughout the shutdown, helping out in the kitchen doing takeout, too,” Stigen said. “Now that we’re open again, the pickup and delivery side of the business is staying the same. And now it’s nice to have the people in here to serve and to talk to.”
So far everything is going well and Stigen feels good about the success of his restaurant, he said.
“It’s been a wild ride, but it’s going as good as I could hope,” Stigen said.