Jefferson Pizza Ranch owner faces arson charges in January blaze

The Jan. 27 fire at the Pizza Ranch in Jefferson destroyed the building. The Jefferson Volunteer Fire Department narrowly averted the fire from consuming the entire block.

Rob Schultz, owner of the Jefferson Pizza Ranch, has been charged in connection with the fire at the restaurant in the early morning of Jan. 27.

Robert Duane Schultz Jr., 53, of Ankeny has been charged with first-degree arson, a Class B felony; first-degree criminal mischief, a Class C felony; and insurance fraud, a Class D felony.

The investigation began immediately after the fire as members of the Jefferson fire department and police department noted there were multiple points of origin for the fire, indicating it was intentionally set.

According to court documents, Schultz said on Jan. 27 that he left the restaurant Jan. 26 at about 10:15 p.m. He said he arrived at his home in Ankeny an hour later and learned of the fire from a Greene County dispatcher. Schultz claimed to have no knowledge of the fire.

Claims of a smell of gasoline at the restaurant prior to the fire were made by several Jefferson area residents. Alliant Energy had been called to the offices of H & R Block, immediately to the south of Pizza Ranch, about the smell of gasoline.

Schultz told the Alliant employee that he had accidentally spilled gasoline in the main dining area. He said he had taken a 2-gallon plastic gas can in after an employee had run out of gas. He said he knocked the can on a chair and it spilled.

The Jefferson Police Department also received calls about the restaurant smelling of gasoline.

Court documents also state Schultz was told two weeks prior to the fire that the alarm and security camera system were not operating. The affidavit states Schultz did not have an explanation why the system had not been repaired.

The investigation is ongoing and charges against additional suspects are pending.


  1. I’m not sure how far the smell of gas lingers, but I can’t imagine residents could openly smell it. From what you reported, they are acting like they smelled it miles away, hours prior, which I don’t believe. The cameras not being repaired in a pizza joint isn’t out of the ordinary either. That costs money. The fact he was harvesting (sic) gas in a restaurant, though, seems quite red-handed. That’s just out of the ordinary or very coincidental. Either way, I was actually thinking about going there yesterday. How sad.

  2. The dude should be commended for sparing us all from the second-worst pizza marketed in central Iowa. Pizza Ranch serves only mediocre fare at best. I’ve had lots of great, genuine and authentic pizza in my life, but I wouldn’t walk across the street for Pizza Ranch pizza if they gave it away. Besides, if I wanted to go somewhere that had Bible verses and prayers posted everywhere, I’d go to church.

  3. Cici’s. I’m used to extremely spicy and fatty food, but Cici’s Pizza not only tasted like garbage but upset my stomach both times I tried it.


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