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Allegheny Township sandwich shop's abrupt closing upsets patrons

| Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014, 12:31 a.m.
Lisa King (center) and her 10 children run Freedom Farms in Penn Township, Butler County.
Jason Bridge | Trib Total Media
The former Freedom Farms Sandwich Shop location along Leechburg Road in Allegheny Township on Friday, Aug. 8, 2014.

If you want a Freedom Farms sandwich, you'll have to drive to Butler County.

After 2 12 years in Allegheny Township, Freedom Farms Sandwich Shop closed its doors and is moving closer to its other businesses in Penn Township.

“The location became available, so it happened very rapidly,” said Amanda Muscatello, marketing manager for Freedom Farms. “We're in the process of finishing the renovations right now.”

Muscatello said the lease at the Allegheny Township location was up at the beginning of August, which made the move happen quickly.

The shop is part of Freedom Farms in Butler, which is run by the King family, stars of the reality TV show “Farm Kings.” The shop closed its doors at 4323 Shearsburg Road (Route 56) on Monday. They hope to open the new location at 795 Pittsburgh Road, Butler, before the end of the month.

Mixed reactions showed up on the shop's Facebook page this week, with some residents expressing anger about not receiving any warning about the closing and others wishing the business well.

“I was a loyal customer and recommended your business to many people. Packing up and leaving with NO notice to your customers is, quite frankly, bad business and a terrible way to treat the people that kept you in business there. Good luck to you, but I am one customer that will not be returning,” Robert Harris said.

A post from Tony Nardelli said, “I realize it's a business and things happen, but cleaning out the store and heading out of town with no notice isn't the way you treat loyal customers.”

Not all the comments were negative, though.

Laura Augustine said, “Wow ... so much hate in these comments. I look forward to eating sandwiches in your new location.”

Muscatello said the move is simply to consolidate all of the farm's businesses into a central location so visitors can see everything in one trip.

“When we have people coming here from out of town, they'll be able to hit all three locations in a short distance,” she said.

And, she said, it will cut down on traveling time and costs for the farm.

“Depending on the way that you go, it can take anywhere from 35 to 45 minutes to get there,” she said of the Allegheny Township location. “I think the whole idea is it shows people how far we were traveling.”

Muscatello said Freedom Farms appreciates all of the customers who supported its Allegheny Township location. The business chose to open the location there because it's similar to the Butler community and the property was available at the time.

“They embraced us as soon as it started,” she said. “The support that we had from New Kensington, Lower Burrell, Leechburg and all of the other, surrounding communities was fantastic.”

Nancy Jack works at Baker Insurance, adjacent to the now-closed shop. She is sad to see it go but said that location has had many businesses come and go quickly.

“I really didn't think that was going to be the case this time,” Jack said. “We're very sorry to see it happen again, and it will only make it harder for the next business owner to establish a successful venture in that location.”

Jack said she visited the sandwich shop a couple times a week. She often heard good things about the business from people around the area as well.

“They were a welcomed addition, and everyone seemed glad to have them as a part of the community,” she said.

Jack said she understands the move will make running the business easier for the owners but said she doesn't know whether people from the area will travel to Butler to visit the new location.

“I do understand that the distance for the King family themselves may have been prohibitive in operating this business with their other businesses located in Butler,” Jack said.

Muscatello said she knows customers were upset to learn the business was closing but hopes they will visit the new location.

“It was sudden, so there were obviously people who were disappointed,” she said. “It was tough for us, too. We had an opportunity, and it was time to take it.”

Muscatello said the shop and menu will undergo only minor changes. She said employees from the Allegheny Township location were offered jobs at the Butler location.

“We're always just trying to change and evolve to what people want,” Muscatello said.

Emily Balser is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-7710 or ebalser@tribweb.com.

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