Thursday, August 3, 2017

Ashley Madison customers revealed: Richard Barsness, CEO of Missouri-based America's Incredible Pizza Company, appears at extramarital-affairs Web site

Richard and Cheryl Barsness
The CEO and co-owner/founder of a Springfield, MO-based pizza chain appears as a paying customer at the Ashley Madison extramarital-affairs Web site, according to publicly available documents.

Richard Barsness helped start America's Incredible Pizza Company, which combines the restaurant and entertainment worlds. In an ironic twist, from an Ashley Madison angle, joint owner of the company is Cheryl Barsness, Richard's wife. Based on Cheryl's Facebook page, the couple appears to have at least three children and five grandchildren. Richard's Facebook page doesn't provide much information beyond life in the pizza world.

Incredible Pizza has a major presence in Springfield, with a large location on S. Campbell, one of the city's prime commercial thoroughfares. The company is successful, but it hasn't grown as rapidly as Barsness had intended. From a recent report at the Springfield News-Leader:

America's Incredible Pizza Company once thought it would have dozens of locations by now.

In 2005, just three years after the Springfield-based company opened its first buffet-and-carnival mashup on South Campbell Avenue, owner Rick Barsness told the News-Leader he had sold the rights to nearly 50 franchise stores. A year later, that number was up to 73 — and Incredible Pizza also envisioned 30 company-owned stores.

This January, Incredible Pizza opened a location in a suburb of Oklahoma City. It's the sixth company-owned store. Four others are franchises.

“We’re not growing as fast now as we originally may have intended," Barsness said in a recent interview. "We’re growing much slower, but every one of our stores is profitable."

This summer, the company will be shifting its headquarters to a new, larger facility in Springfield. The Barsnesses ideas for Incredible Pizza grew from their experiences with the Gatti's Pizza chain:

Incredible Pizza doesn't open multiple stores in a single metro area, so the company's expansion since 2002 has happened far from its home base. This summer, however, it will be making one change locally, shifting its central office operations to a new location in Springfield that offers 50 percent more space.

Before they opened the first Incredible Pizza at 2850 S. Campbell Ave. — which won't be affected by the headquarters move — Rick and Cheryl Barsness lived in Texas, where they were a franchisee with Gatti's Pizza.

The pizza buffet chain developed a concept with games at the back of its restaurants — but the couple didn't think the plan went far enough. “We wanted to do attractions like go-karts and bumper carts and laser tags, and they had no interest in doing that at all," Rick Barsness said. "They just kind of wanted a small game room.”

The couple ultimately sold their 12 Texas restaurants and moved to Rogersville, MO. Cheryl Barsness said she and her husband became familiar with southwest Missouri when they sent their children to Kanakuk, a Christian camp near Branson. They thought Springfield's demographics seemed similar to Amarillo, a Texas city where they had a successful restaurant.

Incredible Pizza could be described as "Chuck E. Cheese's meets the State Fair":

The South Campbell Incredible Pizza location was 40,000 square feet when it opened.

"People thought we were crazy," Rick Barsness said.

Like all subsequent locations since, it offers a pizza buffet and a mix of arcade and carnival-style games, as well as rides. Private rooms often play host to multiple birthday parties at a time. There's no alcohol on site.

It hasn't been all smooth sailing in the pizza world. The Barsnesses have been wrapped up in litigation several times, including one case where a franchisee claimed to have lost almost $47 million in six years with the company. Ouch! Litigation might be the No. 1 reason Incredible Pizza has not expanded more than expected.

Now, we have Richard Barsness' appearance on Ashley Madison. We sought to ask him what, if any, effect that might have on the pizza business he jointly owns with his wife. So far, he has not responded to our queries.


Article with links to 1-20 in Ashley Madison series

(21) Craig Oliver, attorney, Springfield, MO (1/24/17)

(22) Craig Lowell, attorney, Wiggins Childs, Birmingham (1/26/17)

(23) Thomas Mancuso, tax attorney, Montgomery, AL (2/16/17)

(24) Nicholas Arciniegas, attorney, Washington, D.C. (2/21/17)

(25) Griffin McGahey, vice president, High Cotton USA, Birmingham (3/16/17)

(26) Matthew Couch, attorney, Cabaniss Johnson, Birmingham (3/23/17)

(27) Dr. Keron Vickers, chiropractor, Birmingham (4/4/17)

(28) D. Paterson Cope, president, wealth management, Birmingham (4/20/17)

(29) Shawn Baker, developer, Blackwater Resources, Birmingham (4/24/17)

(30) David Deusner, attorney/forensics, Control Risks, Birmingham/Washington, D.C. (4/26/17)

(31) David J. Harrison, attorney, Geneva, AL (6/8/17)

(32) Michael Mullis, managing partner, Kelley and Mullis, Birmingham (4/12/17)

(33) David Healy, attorney, Ozark, MO (6/15/17)

(34) Tom Layfield, executive director of ALRBA, Montgonery, AL (6/19/17)

(35) Thomas T. Lamberth Jr., mortgage banker, BBVA Compass, Birmingham (6/20/17)

(36) Ron Ten Berge, exec. partner, Frontenac Private Equity, Chicago/Birmingham (6/28/17)

(37) Andy Schroeder, president, South Central Steel, Harpersville, AL (7/12/17)

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