Bob Ring sold his homegrown company of 25 years — then got a job delivering pizzas.
All part of the recipe for the longtime Kansas City businessman who — despite his decades of experience — initially found banks hesitant to lend to him during the pandemic as he worked to open his own pizzeria in Johnson County.
While it ultimately took more than two years to bring Rosati’s Pizza to south Overland Park, Ring didn’t just sit on the idea until trends changed in the struggling service industry, he said.
Waiting on lenders’ confidence to rise, Ring took an entry-level job at another national chain’s pizzeria location to better understand pizza restaurants and what it would take to make a Rosati’s franchise thrive.
“When I first walked in there, they thought I was an ‘Undercover Boss,’” said Ring, referencing the popular TV show that sees a corporate executive discreetly enter the lower ranks of his or her company to get a better understanding of the business. “You know, a guy my age, what are you doing working here?”
Over the next six months, Ring worked his way through different roles at the restaurant and learned the ins and outs of the industry.
When he called his banker with an update, Ring’s commitment and added experience impressed the bank enough to bring him in to sign the paperwork that day, he said.
Ring had planned to open the Rosati’s by May 2020 — just a few months after selling Premier Protection, Inc., his longtime security company.
Technological advancements had begun to jeopardize the sustainability of his commercial and residential security business, and he knew it was time to pivot.
“It was a great business for a lot of years,” Ring said. “The last five years, however, the Internet has taken over that industry.”
And while COVID’s impact on business unexpectedly proved his next big hurdle, he saw the pizzeria venture as a plan that could better weather coming tech and economic storms, Ring said.
According to Ring, just about everyone likes to eat pizza, he reasoned, and — crucially — the food industry is relatively insulated from automation.
“No. 1, Rosati’s was our favorite pizza place,” he said. “No. 2, you can’t go on the Internet and buy a pizza from Amazon and have them ship it to your house.”
Ring’s entrepreneurial renaissance came out of the oven in July with the long-awaited opening of the Rosati’s Pizza franchise at 8360 West 151st St.
Its official grand opening “pizza cutting” with Overland Park Mayor Curt Skoog Aug. 22 saw the restaurant donate 25 percent of the day’s sales to SpeakUP, a local nonprofit that works to prevent teen suicide.
Even though opening the Rosati’s location was Ring’s idea, the entire family is involved in running the restaurant.
His son, Keegan, is the general manager, and the plan is for him to take over the franchise after five years.
Ring previously had hoped to go into business with his own father but didn’t get the opportunity, he said. His father died at age 51 while Bob Ring was still in college.
“I think any father would like to work with his kids,” Ring said. “Working with my son, that means everything. If he wasn’t around, I probably wouldn’t have done it.”
Keegan Ring, who has some experience in food service, said the five weeks of training offered a good “reality check” for how busy a pizza place can be.
He knows running the Rosati’s location won’t always be easy, but said he welcomes the challenge and appreciates the opportunity.
“I have a lot of hard work ahead of me, but it’s something that I look forward to,” Keegan Ring said. “I knew the extent of why my dad was going to open it, and instead of feeling pressure, I just felt gratitude for it.”
Bob Ring’s wife, Mary, is also involved in the “family-run business,” and his daughter, Madison, helps out in the restaurant a couple evenings per week after she’s done with her full-time job.
The family-focused approach matches perfectly with Rosati’s, and extends to how the Rings try to get to know their customers on a personal level, he said.
“Customer service is the most important facet of any business,” Ring said. “If you can’t take care of your customers, you’re not gonna have a business.”
Ultimately, the family hopes working hard to serve their customers quality food will keep them around through any and all technological advancements to come.
“I don’t think you’re gonna find people who are gonna try harder,” Keegan Ring said.