The first thing you see when you walk into Pie Lab are cases full of gorgeous, rustic pies. Once that and the warm smell of pie crust has you salivating, you look up to see a friendly employee greeting you, asking how she can help you, would you like some coffee? Past her smiling face, you see the open kitchen and watch another employee rolling out dough for a pie. Look up and two giant TV monitors put you in a trance as you watch the art of pies being made. Pie Lab is unlike any bakery I’ve been in.
If you know where Trader Joe’s is, then you can find Pie Lab, it’s just a few stores away. They have been in business for about a year and a half and their fan base is growing rapidly. The owner, Susan Fergason, chose this area because it was her hometown and it is a growing neighborhood. The area is trying to build up their family friendly community and small, artisan businesses fit right into that vision.
The bakery’s motto is “Engineering Happiness.” They test, engineer and perfect recipes until they are satisfied with the result. Their ingredients are fresh and as local as possible and the pie crust is made from scratch, using Susan’s grandmother’s recipe. “We embrace the beauty of imperfection, where the crust is rustic, the filling is scrumptious – both handmade.”
All of the employee’s go through a Pie 101
training program where everyone learns how to do everything in the bakery. A unique feature of Pie Lab is the open kitchen where you can watch the team make the pies right in front of you. They prioritize the atmosphere of the bakery too. You feel comfortable lounging at one of their tables, enjoying a slice of pie and a latte for a nice pick-me-up.
They have about 30 different types of pie everyday, and about 100 menu flavors in total. The most popular flavors are the Apple Crumble and the Peach Bourbon. However, lately, according to General Manager, Marie Price, the savory pies are running neck and neck with them, especially the Chicken Pot Pie.
The bakery feels it is important to take responsibility for the community that they live in, so they sponsor events, from hosting music events in the summer, participating in Covington days, sponsoring local youth sports teams to their commitment to science education. You can also schedule a pie baking class for your group or class, and of course you get to eat what you make at the end.
Last week, the Pie Lab won best Strawberry pie at the American Pie Council’s National Pie Championships, in Orlando, Florida, independent retail bakery category. Marie Price took home second in the professional baker’s fruit and nut category for her Nectarine Almond pie, and head baker Natalie Lawyer won the pie crimping competition. The shop is having a celebration on May 20th, with lots of fun planned, including a raffle for one of the prize-winning Strawberry Pies.
As General Manager, Price gets to do a lot of inventing recipes and training employees. Baking has always been her passion but what she loves most about her job is the people. She wants the customers to enjoy eating the pies and the employees to enjoy making the pies. “It’s like giving my passion away.”
On my way out, carrying my goodies for later, I looked up and saw one of their shirts for sale. It made me chuckle and it seemed to fit the atmosphere of the bakery. “π [Pi] Irrational But Well Rounded.”