Pizza Corner Frozen Pizza Sold to Minnesota Company

Heidi Harris
News Editor

Pizza Corner brand of frozen pizza will be sold to a Minnesota company, and the factory in Valley City where they are made will close in May, said Dan Michaels, spokesperson for Pizza Corner. The restaurant will remain open and operated by Dave Zubrod.

Bernatello’s Foods has reached an agreement to purchase the rights to the Pizza Corner brand of frozen pizza effective May 20.

Bernatello’s, like Pizza Corner, is a family-owned and operated business. It is based in Maple Lake, Minn. with additional production operations in Kaukauna, Wisc.

Employees of the factory were notified of the sale Friday afternoon.

Zubrod said in a statement, "My biggest concern in the sale of Pizza Corner brand of frozen pizzas to Bernatello's Foods was my employees. Their welfare weighed heavily on me right up to the final moment and in fact almost derailed the process more than once."

Each employee received a day's wage for attending the meeting to announce the sale. Each employee will also receive a $500 bonus for staying with the company until the official change over.

In addition, each employee will receive two weeks of bonus compensation for staying with the company until it is officially closed. The ownership and top management officials of Bernatello’s Foods were in Valley City Friday with a goal of hiring as many employees as possible to assure continuity at their production facilities in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The relationship between Bernatello’s and Pizza Corner began several years ago. At that time, the prospect of Pizza Corner co-packing a 14 inch pizza for the Minnesota-based company was discussed. That opportunity did not materialize, however, due to lack of production space at Pizza Corner’s Valley City plant.

This initial conversation eventually led to an agreement in which Bernatello’s would co-pack for Pizza Corner. This partnership in turn, led to the acquisition of the North Dakota company.

Bill Ramsay, owner and President of Bernatello’s Foods, said, “Dave Zubrod, the founder of the Pizza Corner brand of frozen pizzas, has built not only a quality brand, but a brand that has become an institution in North Dakota and the region. Bernatello’s Foods is committed to maintaining this high quality while expanding the scope of Pizza Corner’s outstanding product. The company intends to use its extensive distribution network to continue growing the brand and its popularity in a larger geographic area."

The current sales and delivery side of the Pizza Corner business will be expanded by adding a bigger fleet of trucks, concentrating routes and adding sales professionals and merchandising experts throughout the Dakotas. Capacity issues at the Valley City facility will lead to Pizza Corner production being relocated to other Bernatello’s facilities with an opportunity to many Pizza Corner employees to remain with the company there. The quality and ingredients that have made Pizza Corner brand so successful will remain the same.

Zubrod explained, “The timing was right, the fit was right — Bernatello’s outstanding dedication to excellence offers a home to a product I’ve spent my life developing over many years. My employees have become like family, making this decision a challenge, but I know in my heart this is the best decision for the Pizza Corner brand; Bernatello’s is the company that can take this brand to a national level while still respecting where it all started."

Zubrod said after nearly 40 years, Pizza Corner had run out of production space to keep up with demand and potential growth.

The acquisition of Pizza Corner brand of frozen pizzas does not include Pizza Corner restaurant in Valley City. Zubrod will manage and consult with the Valley City Bernatello’s distribution center and will continue to own and operate the establishment where the Pizza Corner Brand originated.
Zubrod said, "I’m retaining ownership of The Pizza Corner restaurant and will manage and consult with Bernatello’s at the distribution center here in Valley City so there will be some potential opportunities for employment here as well. I also plan to personally assist as many of my team members as well in finding other employment."