Mike, Buddy and Mark LaRosa

Buddy LaRosa’s Family Creates New Foundation on His 90th Birthday

The LaRosa Family Foundation will invest in Cincinnati-area programs focused on providing kids with the tools they need to be successful.

The Cincinnati-based LaRosa’s Family Pizzera chain honored its beloved founder’s 90th birthday with a gift to the community: the creation of the LaRosa Family Foundation, which will serve the Greater Cincinnati area.

LaRosa’s founder Donald S. “Buddy” LaRosa was born on August 25, 1930, the son of a Sicilian immigrant with a tireless work ethic. He opened his first LaRosa’s pizzeria on Boudinot Avenue in Westwood in 1954, and his sons Michael and Mark later entered the business, creating what is now a regional restaurant chain with 65 pizzerias and sales of more than $167 million.

Related: Buddy cards, Buddy coins and the story of LaRosa’s Family Pizzeria

Buddy celebrated his 90th birthday today—after being in self-isolation since mid-March due to the global pandemic—with a virtual press conference to announce The LaRosa Family Foundation.

Buddy LaRosa in 1986

“As an exemplary citizen, entrepreneur and icon of the Greater Cincinnati community, Buddy’s life has been full of joy, passion and accomplishment—always with a focus on others,” a LaRosa’s press release states. “Accordingly, the LaRosa family is recognizing his life, career and focus on giving back to the community with the formation of the LaRosa Family Foundation to ensure that Buddy’s legacy will continue for decades to come.”

The family created the foundation with an initial contribution of $90,000 in honor of Buddy LaRosa’s 90 years. They said the foundation will support programs and activities for youth/adolescent development through education, athletics and life skill development.

Christina LaRosa, Mark’s daughter and Buddy’s granddaughter, will serve as the director of the foundation.  A practicing attorney, she is also executive director of Cincinnati Golden Gloves for Youth, an organization founded by Buddy LaRosa to help local inner-city youth develop life skills.

The LaRosa Family Foundation will invest in local programs that are focused on providing kids with the tools they need to be successful. “We’re betting that successful kids grow up to be successful adults who’ll build a stronger community,” said Christina LaRosa.

The plan is to grow the Foundation’s initial endowment over time through ongoing contributions from the family as well as gifts from those in the community who support the Foundation’s focus.

Buddy LaRosa and his crew opened the first LaRosa’s pizzeria in 1954.

“We’re still finalizing the details of how the Foundation will practically work,” Christina added. Additional details and information on the grant process and timing will be announced by mid-2021.

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Meanwhile, at today’s virtual press conference, family members shared anecdotes from Buddy LaRosa’s life, sang the birthday song and ate birthday cake.

“Our dad is an incredibly genuine and caring person,” said Michael LaRosa, the company’s CEO. “His zest for life has not waned, and he looks forward to many more years to come. He came from nothing, worked hard and made a difference. He truly believes in ‘taking care of the neighbors you serve.’ He’s incredibly excited about the Foundation and the impact it will have on the youth of our local community.”

For details on how to contribute to The LaRosa Family Foundation, contact Cathy Shondel, Director of Community Involvement, at cshondel@larosas.com.