WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - A row of historic downtown Carthage buildings has new owners, though they are hardly strangers to the neighborhood. The Magro family, owners of Stefano’s Pizzeria, was forced from one side of State Street to the other back in 2002 after a huge block fire.
Today, members of the Magro family will tell you now owning the property straight across the street brings their story full circle.
“In Italy, pizza is like hotdogs. Everyone makes it,” said Savie Magro, who co-owns Stefano’s with his parents and sister.
Savie has been making pizzas since he was 10 years old.
“It’s probably my favorite thing to do in the world - it’s my happy place,” he said.
After 16 years of leasing, the Magro family now owns its happy place.
It was March 2002, when fire took away Savie’s original happy place. Eventually, Stefano’s reopened, leasing space, right across the street. This past summer when the chance came to buy the property, they did.
“The fire took away that once; we didn’t want anybody else to try to take away this one,” said Savie.
Savie remembers the 2002 fire.
“I remember, emotionally, just feeling just like somebody punched you in the stomach over and over and over again,” he said.
When the fire ripped up downtown, we found Savie and his father there watching. Back then we told the story of Stefano’s reopening in a temporary location soon after the fire.
“As much as we do it for us, we do it twice-fold for the community,” Savie said in 2002.
And that Magro motto holds true today.
“It was more of - if you leave the town, then you’re kind of leaving the people who supported you. If I leave, I’m abandoning the people that helped me during my toughest days,” said Savie.
The front windows of the pizzeria look out across State Street. On the other side is where the old pizza shop stood before it fell to fire. Savie said that’s a reminder of how far the family has come.
“You look across the street and even though the building’s not there anymore, you’re here and you look across the street and that place is always home,” he said.
“Here” is home now and the family owns it - investing again in downtown Carthage 19 years after the block fire - bringing things full circle for the Magros.