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Friday, July 7, 2000 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Coffee trio purchases Pagliacci pizza chain

Seattle Times business reporter

Among pizza aficionados in Seattle, there's an ongoing debate over who makes the best: Romio's or Pagliacci?

That question won't be answered anytime soon, but one of the companies is undergoing a dramatic change.

Dorene Centioli-McTigue, owner of Pagliacci Pizza, has sold the company to three longtime friends who helped create Seattle Coffee Co.

Matt Galvin, Pat McCarthy and Pat McDonald, former owners of coffee company Torrefazione Italia, bought Pagliacci Pizza in early June. The sale will be announced next week when the company mails notices to its regular customers.

The announcement is to contain letters from Centioli-Mc Tigue and the three new owners, explaining the reason for the sale and the intent to retain Pagliacci's quality and service.

"We've bought a wonderful, growing concern," McDonald said. "So far there's been no formal change in control. Dorene is still operating the business day-to-day. We've been making pizzas and spending time in the phone center and commissary to make sure we have a grasp on the great product."

Pagliacci operates three restaurants and 12 delivery locations, all in Seattle or on the Eastside. On a normal weekend night, the company takes about 2,000 orders for 3,000 pizzas.

Centioli-McTigue built the business from scratch and, at 57, said it's time for someone younger to take the company to the next step.

"As the founder of Pagliacci Pizza, one of my duties was to think about and prepare for the future," she wrote in her letter to customers. "If I were to ignore this responsibility, all sorts of unfortunate things might happen.

"That's why I've kept my eyes open for the perfect people to take over. Although I didn't realize it at the time, I found them where I get my latte."

McDonald said it's likely the company will expand under the new owners, but their first concern is providing the same quality and level of service.

McDonald, Galvin and McCarthy owned Torrefazione Italia when it merged with Seattle's Best Coffee, creating Seattle Coffee Co. They stayed on to run the company for two years after it was purchased by AFC Enterprises of Atlanta.

Robert T. Nelson's phone message number is 206-464-2996. His e-mail address is rnelson@seattletimes.com.

Copyright (c) 2000 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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