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Luverne Restaurant Prepping For Santorum

January 30, 2012, 4:56 PM by David Brown

Luverne Restaurant Prepping For Santorum
LUVERNE, MN - Ready or not, the Republican race for president is making its way into Minnesota.

The Pizza Ranch on Main Street in Luverne will host the former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum on Monday night. The news came as a shock to the restaurant's staff, but they're making sure the presidential hopeful feels comfortable.

The lunchtime crowd wasn't exactly stuffed, but the seats at the Luverne Pizza Ranch will fill up fast Monday night.

"It's very exciting," Luverne Pizza Ranch manager Dee Stanley said. "I just looked and we've tallied 33 phone calls since about 9 a.m. this morning. People are calling in and asking if it's true that he's coming in."

Stanley says the preparation for Santorum's visit started on Sunday and only grew from there.

"They called yesterday morning and booked our party room," Stanley said. "And then they called again this morning to confirm and to let us know they would need both of our party rooms and part of the restaurant."

"We're glad to have him at the Pizza Ranch (Monday night)," Luverne city attorney Ben Vander Kooi said. "It's always good to expose people to more views. We've kind of followed him a bit since he was in Iowa."

Vander Kooi will be attending the town hall meeting Monday. Santorum is the first GOP presidential candidate to visit Minnesota this election season, and Vander Kooi's glad the state isn't being ignored.

"For years, we've kind of been on the doorstep of Iowa," Vander Kooi said. "And now, we at least have a chance to get someone in Minnesota to talk presidential politics."

Minnesota is the longest-running blue state in the country, voting Democrat in the last nine presidential elections. But if Santorum's deciding to spend some time in the state, the Pizza Ranch hosts know they need to make a lasting impression.

"We just have to look good, be clean and be ready to go," Stanley said. "It's going to be fun. This is the kind of thing we like to do."

The town hall starts at 7:30 Monday night.  Managers say in addition to Santorum, there's also a fundraiser event happening at the same time, so the restaurant will be packed. They're trying to clear extra parking behind the restaurant, but they suggest arriving early.

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