Mario continued to expand the Pastega family legacy as an active philanthropist in the Willamette Valley. He carried on the tradition of hard work and went to work everyday at the Pepsi Cola of Corvallis, OR, office that he owned and had operated for 60 years. Originally Mario and a partner, Leo Bocchi, purchased the Pepsi Cola Bottling company in Klamath Falls, Oregon, from Elmer Kennedy. It was 1961 when Mario purchased the Pepsi distributorship in Corvallis, Oregon. This would be followed by Tillamook, OR, in 1974 and Medford, OR, in 1986. Mario Pastega passed away on January 20, 2012.
Ken Pastega did manage the Medford franchise location and during his tenure there, created the Romano’s Italian Soda line.
“I kept seeing people in coffee shops and restaurants order Italian sodas, only to receive a drink that lacked sophistication,” explains Ken Pastega. “There was no consistency in its creation. Sometimes the bartender or barista added too much syrup and other times not enough syrup. Customers never knew what they were getting.”
Pastega was convinced that people would buy these delicious drinks if available because he had seen people’s interest in Italian sodas increase in recent years. The idea of bottling a gourmet drink only lingered in Pastega’s mind until he obtained the trademark for Romano’s – so the beverages could be named after his grandfather.
“It has been fun because although we’ve been in the soft drink business for years, we’ve never done anything like this. To develop our own drink has just been a blast,” says Pastega.