How did you end up bringing the Pie Hole to the arts district?
Adrianna (Sullivan) is one of the best pastry chefs in the city, she’s a very serious chef. We were very humbled and amazed that she wanted to work with us from the very beginning. She’s so talented and she understands what makes an exceptional pie. We do some funky stuff and some old school pie too. Good ingredients, good pastry, good execution makes good pie. It sounds simplified but we try to reduce it down to that. The Arts District is a great community and thought it would be a great fit for a pie shop.
How did you go about starting a pie shop?
My business partners are Matt Hefner and his mother Becky and they are a pie family. Matt and his fiancé Lindsay and I have known each other for a really long time. They’re a pie family, whenever you meet up or have a bbq they bring pies. They are pie people. Matt is an amazing dreamer, always has great ideas like ‘I want to build a beer hall in my backyard’. Then one day it was like “I want to open a pie shop” I thought it was a great idea. These conversations started back in 2010, where we were just talking about it. Economic times were difficult and people didn’t have a lot of money to go get fancy dinners all the time. Chicken pot pie, slice of pie, they’re comfort foods. Something people rely on, and also makes them feel good. It is relatively inelastic, everyone likes pie.
Although there’s a pie trend right now, especially with meat pies, pie isn’t all of a sudden going to go away. Grandma makes pies, thanksgiving comes every year. I think if we do right by the pie we will be able to be successful. So I said to them “now is probably the time, this style of cafe really works. It will have to be casual yet high quality food, with good customer service. You can just sit down and hang out, use the wifi and music is playing and mix that with great pie and coffee and it will be great. We thought it would only work in a neighborhood that is very community based it has a sense a self. We wanted to be apart of a neighborhood where new businesses were going in Wurstküche, Handsome Coffee, Apolis, Poketo, new awesome businesses are opening all the time. People who are in the cusp of new and exciting ideas. It’s a like minded branding opportunity in the Arts District. I live in silver lake, my businesses partners live in the valley and we looked around for awhile, cause we had to find the right place because we knew community is everything. You can’t screw around with pie, there’s such high expectation for “America and apple pie”. Everyone makes pie and thinks they know what’s up, so we had to do it right. We thought it would be best to get into a neighborhood and get to know people and have roots. Pie culture we like to call it. We are lucky enough to have a decent business model with a great team and an awesome chef.
It’s been 8 months in the Arts District, what do you feel the response has been?
It’s been killer. First of all, when we were doing the metrics I didn’t think people would eat pie every day, but it turns out we we see the same people almost every single day. We haven’t had to start a support group or anything but the neighborhood is great because it’s a perfect blend of hardworking intelligent business people that are fun and laid back. The vibe is just right for a pie shop. People who will have a nice slice of pie for lunch are here, there’s a bit of convention thrown out the window because people are re-thinking things around us and it’s fun. We’re surrounded by good energy and a lot of good people. It’s really weird how great this neighborhood is, there’s just so many good, supportive people.
Our success is directly related to what a great team we have. Everybody shows up every day pretty fired up to be here, both staff and customers. If you have a nice slice of pie and a good cup coffee it should be the highlight of your day. That’s what we are working for, to have The Pie Hole be the best part of your day. It sounds hokey but that’s our motto.
Where do you get your fruits and such from?
It’s all local, we don’t have hyper rules but generally we want to get things from within the nearby counties. All seasonal, local fruits and meats. It’s fun too cause sometimes things are in season here that maybe even San Francisco doesn’t. We love building relationships with our farms and suppliers, we feel like it enhances the pie. We don’t try and always focus on organic because isn’t always the highest quality product and that’s what our focus is, highest quality possible.
We say each morning when we start the day and at the end of a long day: ‘We will be the best part of your day.’ We try and be that everyday, not only to our customers but to each other.