TYRONE - A Tyrone landmark is under new ownership.
Bill Kirkpatrick, a Tyrone native and businessman, has purchased East End Pizza at 1600 Columbia Ave. from the Sweitzer family.
The restaurant had been in the Sweitzer family since it opened in February 1956, under the late Harold Sweitzer and his brother John Franchio.
Patsy Kirkpatrick makes hoagies at East End Pizza in Tyrone. Patsy and her husband, Bill, are the new owners of the restaurant.
Harold's wife, Louise, and their daughters Judy Haverstein, Kay Spacht and Brenda Sweitzer had been running the business.
Kirkpatrick, a 1982 graduate of Tyrone Area High School, had been away from the area for 21 years while serving in the U.S. Air Force, before returning to Tyrone about six years ago. He had run the Subway franchise on Pennsylvania Avenue before selling it to Dave and Jess Park.
Kirkpatrick said he, his wife, Patsy, and daughter Elizabeth are excited about taking over East End Pizza. He said the women will run the business.
"It is a community legacy. I grew up eating East End food. When I came home, I looked forward to that the most," Bill Kirkpatrick said. "The Sweitzer family has built a legacy here. This is a Tyrone tradition."
Patsy Kirkpatrick, also a Tyrone native, said she is excited to serve the community.
"I feel very privileged and honored to take on and continue the legacy," she said. "A lot of people in Tyrone grew up on this [East End food]. It was very special and we want to keep it special."
Selling the family business was not easy.
"It was a hard decision for all of us to make. This is not a little grocery store. We do a business that is phenomenal," Haverstein said prior to the Feb. 14 closing.
East End Pizza is best known for its Italian hoagies - they sell between 200 and 300 dozen on a weekly basis - made with a secret family recipe.
"The food will stay the same. We have the secrets," Bill Kirkpatrick said. "I like the pizza and the people like the pizza. If I were going to change the pizza, it would be a bad business decision."
Elizabeth Kirkpatrick said it is important to stay loyal to the recipe.
"It is something people love," Elizabeth Kirkpatrick said. "We have to make sure each hoagie is an East End hoagie and goes out of here the way it should be."
Kirkpatrick, who also serves as senior vice president of HMS Technologies, an IT company based in Martinsburg, W.Va., said East End Pizza will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Monday hours will be added in early May.
He said the staff, except for the Sweitzer family members, has stayed on. He said he has added four part-time jobs and may soon add another.
Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.