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Family makes pizza franchise their own

by: ISABEL GAUTSCHI - Tamara Pugh takes an order. Pugh has owned Figaro's Pizza in Estacada for 17 years.It may be a international pizza chain, but Tamara Pugh has found a way to make Figaro’s Pizza a hometown business.

Pugh gives an interview in between prepping pizzas that will be donated to Adopt-a-Family volunteers as they wrap and load presents for needy local families.

“Pretty much any event that happens, Figaro’s donates pizza,” Pugh said.

And that’s not the only way Figaro’s helps out in the community.

In late October, Figaro’s gave the Estacada Junior High student council $500 under its HELP (Helping Education with Love and Pizza) program. The grant funds will help renovate a game room into a “Tiger’s Lair” for students who earn access through positive behavior.

Over the years, HELP grants have gone to outdoor school scholarships, field trips, animal journals, art supplies and more for Estacada students.

Pugh says she is having a hard time coming up with interesting things to tell the Estacada News about the business.

She talks about the time she stayed up until 2 a.m. to serve pizzas to a film crew. But she can’t remember whether it was “Without a Paddle” or “Mean Creek.”

As an afterthought, she adds that she has recently returned from a trip to Haiti with Forward Edge, a Christian relief organization. An experience she calls “life changing.”

by:  ISABEL GAUTSCHI - Pugh's sister, Patty Hnidey discusses her favorite pizza, the pesto chicken bacon pizza.Pugh also holds the title of “Master Food Preserver” through the Oregon State University Extension Service and volunteers to share her vast food preserving expertise at community and county events.

“I guess I just like food, period,” Pugh said.

Pugh grew up “playing store.”

While living in Molalla, Pugh was a frequent patron of the Figaro’s Pizza there. As an adult, Pugh became a tax accountant, but she longed to own a business in a small town.

Figaro’s business model was keyed toward small towns.

The company’s website admits, “Figaro’s is all about family, community and well... moustaches.”

It was just what Pugh wanted.

Pugh went to a training at a Figaro’s Pizza in Salem.

The students started out learning basic skills, but by the end of two weeks were expected to be able to manage a store.

With Pugh’s Estacada location secured, Figaro’s leadership came to the new store to help train Pugh’s staff.

“We pretty much personally starved the first year to make sure everything was paid for and the business had cash,” Pugh said of the early days of being a business owner.

The Estacada Figaro’s Pizza has been going strong for 17 years.

It’s a family affair.

Pugh’s sister, Patty Hnidey, has been there since “day one.”

The sisters’ kids have all worked at Figaro’s for a time.

Pugh takes great pride in the store’s products.

The store offers a variety of you-bake or we-bake pizzas. All MSG free.

All of the dough except for the gluten-free dough is prepared on location.

And yes, there are gluten-free options. Pugh says the gluten-free pizzas are very popular in Estacada.

What are the sisters’ favorite pizzas?

For Hnidey, it’s the pesto chicken bacon pizza.

For Pugh, it’s plain old pepperoni.




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