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Bastion of Barbecue

Two area football teams will move their rib-eating rivalry from the field to a year-old Thousand Oaks restaurant.


Members of the Westlake High School football team will be out for revenge Tuesday against players from rival Thousand Oaks High.

It won't be on the field, as usual, but at the Rib Ranch restaurant in Thousand Oaks, where 25 players from each team will gather to down as many barbecued beef ribs as they can handle in two hours. Last year's inaugural contest ended with Thousand Oaks out-gorging its competition 299 ribs to 291.

The rib-off, along with a $14.95 all-you-can-eat pork and beef rib promotion this Saturday, will mark the first anniversary of the Thousand Oaks rib eatery.

The celebrations culminate a busy year for restaurant owner Mike Ignelzi, who opened the Thousand Oaks restaurant while continuing to run his popular Rib Ranch restaurant in Woodland Hills.

"I've got quite a long history in the restaurant business," Ignelzi said. "I worked for the original owners of the Rib Ranch in 1970 when it was in the heart of the valley, off Sepulveda. I started as a dishwasher at 17."

In 1973, owners and brothers Bernie and Lennie Kahn relocated to Woodland Hills, and Ignelzi went with them.

He climbed the culinary ladder from prep cook to cook to manager, and after leaving to be an accountant for a while, came back in 1991 to purchase the restaurant.

"Despite the economic [recession], fires, floods, earthquakes, we kept on growing," Ignelzi said. "We decided to open a second location in Thousand Oaks."

The Ventura County restaurant is in a 200-seat, 6,600-square-foot former Marie Callender's site.

"The building was vacant. It was closed for almost six years," Ignelzi said. "My children go to school out here in Thousand Oaks, and when we drove by, we saw what a beautiful building it was and what a shame that it was vacant, almost abandoned."

The Rib Ranch menu features ribs, ribs and more ribs; lots of barbecue sauce and some other stuff.

Appetizers on the dinner menu include a rib sampler of five Eastern baby back pork ribs ($6.95), flamed broiled barbecued shrimp in a barbecue sauce ($4.95) and spicy chicken poppers in a barbecue sauce ($4.95).

Entrees include beef ribs ($8.95 for two, $12.95 for four), half a barbecued chicken ($9.95), tri-tip roast ($11.95) and tri-tip with penne pasta ($10.95).

Eastern baby back pork ribs are $10.95 for a half rack, $14.95 for a full rack. A 12-ounce rib eye is $14.95, a 16-ounce Porterhouse is $16.95, a 10-ounce top sirloin is $10.95 and a salmon pasta dish is $13.95.

On the lunch menu, the list of sandwiches includes barbecued pork roast ($7.95), tri-tip ($7.95) skirt steak ($8.95), tri-tip and pork combination ($7.95), and barbecued hot links with grilled onions ($7.95).

For those who can't get to the restaurant (or are afraid they'll be too bloated to leave if they can), local delivery service is now available.

The restaurant offers a full menu and, through the end of the year, a football team-worthy "Rib Ranch Feast for Two."

The feast includes a half barbecue chicken, a half rack of baby back pork ribs, a pair of beef ribs, one pint of cole slaw, one pint of barbecue baked beans, one pint of garlic mashed potatoes or fries and four rolls, with barbecue sauce ($19.95).

The restaurant is at 1712 Avenida de los Arboles. It is open 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays; 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Call 493-5522.

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