Frank R. Augustine Sr., of Italian heritage, was born in January 1932 in Taylor Township, Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, the son of Joseph Augustine and Helen (Frengel) Augustine. He grew up at the family residence on the Martha Street Extension and attended the local schools. He later married the former Sara Linz in September 1953 and together, at their home on Frew Mill Road, they raised two children named Frank Jr. and Joseph.
A few years later, Frank Sr. decided to open his own Italian restaurant in New Castle. It was a true family affair as Frank teamed with his wife Sara and both of his parents to own and operate the business. In March 1957 the new Augustine’s Italian Village, specializing in pizzas and spaghetti dinners, opened just across from Cascade Park at #1909 East Washington Street. The business enjoyed immediate success and became well-known within the local community. They soon opened a second location in August 1959, essentially taking over the existing restaurant inside the Shenango Bowl-A-Way. In March 1960 another location was opened on the North Hill at the intersection of the Wilmington Road and West Moody Avenue, while the family’s agreement with the Shenango Bowl-A-Way was soon ended.
Reorganization continued in 1961 as the original location near Cascade Park was moved to a vacant building at #833 East Lutton Avenue. The building was the former home of a neighborhood grocery store known as McKeever’s Market. A new store was also opened opposite Joseph’s Market on East Long Avenue, but was closed after just a few years. Over time a pizza from Augustine’s became one of New Castle’s most iconic and beloved foods.
Tragedy soon struck as Frank Augustine Sr., at the young age of thirty-five, passed away suddenly after being stricken with a heart attack in late January 1967. He was laid to rest in Castle View Memorial Gardens in Neshannock Township. His parents and his widow Sara (also raising her two sons) continued to operate the local business. The store at East Moody Avenue was shuttered in about 1971 and operations were consolidated at the East Lutton Avenue location (offering take out only). Sara, who continued to work well into her seventies, eventually passed management of the business over to her son Frank R. Augustine Jr. and her grandson Frank J. Augustine. The family had suffered a great loss in May 1996 when Sara’s other son Joseph M. Augustine, who led the efforts in the kitchen, passed away at the age of thirty-seven.
In the spring of 2011 the company, whether it was ready or not, took a major step forward when it signed a three-year contract to become an official sponsor of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Pirates. This agreement allowed the company to provide mini-pizzas at the concession stands during events held at Heinz Field and PNC Park. This deal, although it took some time, marked a turning point as the company made a major shift towards retail operations. The company soon ramped up operations and began distributing its frozen pizzas to more and more grocery stores throughout the region. Before too long the business was turning out close to 10,000 frozen pizzas a week at its small facility nestled in a residential area along East Lutton Avenue.
A major setback occurred on the evening of Saturday, November 8, 2014, when Augustine’s Italian Village was severely damaged by a fire. The building was a total loss although much of the equipment was saved. The forty or so employees were laid off while plans were put in motion to reopen the business. A new building, a warehouse formerly utilized by Pizza Joe’s, was soon purchased in the Shenango Commerce Park and retail operations branded as Augustine’s Pizza resumed there in March 2015. The new location was strictly devoted to the production and distribution of frozen foods and did not include any take-out or restaurant space. This sadly ended sixty-seven years of such service to the local community.
Sara Augustine, an original founder, is still an owner with her son Frank R. Augustine and his wife Kimberly, her grandson Frank J. Augustine, and granddaughter Ashley Augustine Rhodes. Augustine’s remains a family affair and its pizzas are still enjoyed throughout western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio.
An early advertisement for Augustine’s Italian Village soon after it was opened. (Mar 1957)
Frank R. Augustine Jr., the son of original founders Frank and Sara Augustine, currently serves as the President of Augustine’s Pizza. He led a determined effort to see that the business was reopened after the disastrous fire of November 2014. (2014)