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Rustic Crust finds temporary location in Pittsfield warehouse

Rustic Crust is one step closer to making pizzas again in Pittsfield. Less than a week after the company’s bakery was destroyed by fire, owner Brad Sterl said yesterday that he will outfit a warehouse on Main Street with ovens and begin making gourmet pizzas within two months.

A new, permanent bakery is expected to be up and running in the Pittsfield area in the next six months, Sterl said Monday. The temporary setup will be housed in a 65,000-square-foot warehouse that currently stores flour and other products used for making pizzas and crusts. The warehouse will have to be transformed into a place where food can be prepared – complete with washable walls and open brick ovens for making American Flatbread frozen pizzas, the company announced yesterday.

In an interview Monday, Sterl said he was anxious to get back to filling orders. He said his business recently received an influx of new requests from grocers. Most of the 6,700 stores across the United States that carry his pizzas and ready-made crusts have about six weeks of product before they will run out, he said.

Sterl estimated it could be six weeks before he has the temporary location ready to make crusts and pizzas and start sending out shipments to stores.

“As soon as our products are not on the shelf, someone else will start looking to fill that gap,” he said.

Sterl said he is committed to keeping his company in the Pittsfield area. On Monday, he told employees he would continue to pay their salaries until they could begin working for him again.

Slowing the restart of production – even on a temporary basis – is that Sterl has found his ovens are irreplaceable on the open market.

“We have to build them from scratch,” Sterl said of the open brick ovens used to make American Flatbread pizzas.

About 100 employees are employed at Rustic Crust. The company was founded by Sterl in 1996 and is advertised as the No. 1 brand of natural and organic pizza crusts.

(Daira Cline can be reached at 369-3306 or dcline@cmonitor.com.)

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