It didn’t take long for word to spread in Canonsburg that the iconic Sarris Candies was burning.
Not long after Lee Mox and about a dozen other coworkers escaped the Friday morning fire, he and others began getting text messages and phone calls asking if they knew what was happening at the confectionery.
“I’ve probably got 20 text messages making sure we’re OK,” Mox said while standing in the employee parking lot with dozens of other workers who were just arriving to start their day.
The workers could only stand around and watch as several fire departments battled the blaze that appeared to begin inside the attic of the building’s ice cream parlor section.
Workers hoped to return to work Monday to move any undamaged goods to other sections of the building as they try to reopen before Valentine’s Day and get orders out for Easter—candy is sold at several local stores including the Verona Giant Eagle, Rite Aid in Oakmont and Plum, Joanne's Hallmark in Plum and Shop 'n Save in Plum.
“This is a huge landmark,” said Linda Cooley, who works at Sarris and lives nearby. “My kids walk down here in the summer at least once a day and get penny candy. This is where they bring their friends.”
Many of the employees were seen embracing each other and talking to owner Bill Sarris. His calm demeanor about the situation seemed to add confidence that the confectionary wouldn’t be closed for very long. Only one portion of the multi-building business was damaged.
“The Easter Bunny is safe,” Sarris joked to reporters.
Sarris said he appreciated the support from the community as he and his workers prepare to clean up the mess and replace the destroyed inventory.
“This our home. Canonsburg’s our home,” Sarris said. “Pittsburgh’s our base and all this community and people around us have supported of for years. We do a lot of stuff, whatever we can, to support the community as well as surrounding areas. The community is as important to us as we are to them.”
Nadeen Steffey, Canonsburg’s Main Street manager, said she and borough officials are looking into whether they can find temporary retail space so Sarris can continue selling merchandise in town.
“We’re happy to see they’re looking at reopening very soon, but to have that entity not operating in the community is a bit of devastating. My mind’s been spinning since I heard about it this morning.”