Fire damages Augustine’s, a New Castle family pizza business that caters to PNC Park |

Fire damages Augustine’s, a New Castle family pizza business that caters to PNC Park

Owners of a decades-old family pizza business in New Castle remained devastated Sunday as they tried to determine the impact a weekend fire could have on their future.

“We’re crushed. This is our life,” said Augustine’s Pizza CEO and owner Frank Augustine, 26. “It’s all we know.”

Opened in 1957 by his grandparents and great-grandparents, the business expanded last year with a frozen-food line carried in Pittsburgh and throughout the region at 200 retailers, including Giant Eagle, Shop ‘n Save and Wal-Mart.

Augustine’s has sold pizza at PNC Park for four years, averaging about 20,000 pizzas each season, Augustine said. The company used to supply Heinz Field.

Workers produce between 2,400 and 2,600 pizzas each day, Augustine said. The business operates Monday through Friday, when it offers take-out pizza.

New Castle firefighters responded to a fire at the East Lutton Street business about 7:30 p.m. Saturday. No one was in the business, and no injuries were reported. Some workers had been cleaning inside about three hours earlier, Augustine said.

Fire officials could not be reached Sunday for an update on the investigation, though Augustine said he believes it started in the kitchen.

No estimates were available for the amount of damage.

Augustine said his grandmother, Sara Augustine, who started the business with her husband and his parents and who is the sole surviving founder, ran the business for decades and performed its bookkeeping until 2010. Now 84, she came Saturday night to watch as firefighters quelled the fire as it burned through the roof.

“It was devastating,” he said. “She was there for the very first pizza served.”

In the next few days, Augustine said they will be able to access the building and determine the extent of the damage. Notably, he said, two pieces of valuable equipment — one that sauces pizzas and another that wraps them — need to be examined. That will dictate how long the recovery could take.

“Without knowing that, it’s impossible to say,” Augustine said.

This is a busy time of the year, he said, with the company making pizzas for retailers and fundraising events.

“We’ve been really busy lately,” Augustine said. “We didn’t have much in stock. We didn’t have as much as we wished we had.”

The company is insured, and the family plans to rebuild, Augustine said.

“We want to continue. We don’t plan on this stopping us,” Augustine said. “I couldn’t imagine a world without Augustine’s Pizza.”

Jason Cato is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7936 or [email protected].

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.