Pie is such a versatile food. It can be filled with chocolate and fruits or packed with savory cheese and vegetables. It’s a pocket-sized yet filling meal: easy to take on the go and something you can enjoy morning, noon and night. It’s also the ultimate comfort food, which is the driving force behind The Pie Hole’s tagline: “Pie is Love,” a phrase coined by owner Matthew Heffner’s mom, Becky Grasley.
The Pie Hole uses recipes passed down in the family for five generations, along with more modern inventions. All the pies are made from scratch without preservatives and are baked fresh daily.
This growing family-run business, which originated in Los Angeles, has five locations in CA, plus one in Tokyo. Lucky us, we’ll have the very first shop on the entire East Coast right here in Durham.
The owners of the The Pie Hole in Durham are Triangle-based husband and wife, Young and Surelyne Lee, who have family roots and personal experience in the food service industry. They are thrilled to bring The Pie Hole’s offerings to their home state!“We set out looking for a unique concept…a place where we could enjoy good coffee with alcohol along with a good dessert…a place that’s family-friendly but also appropriate for a date night,” Lee explains. It’s a tall order to find all of that in one place, but when the pair visited The Pie Hole in downtown LA, they knew they had stumbled across the concept they were looking for. “The pies, both sweet and savory, are phenomenal and so unique! In addition, The Pie Hole serves great coffee drinks, and we had the option to add alcohol to the mix,” they explained. In addition, the Durham location will serve beer and wine.
When it came time to find a location to set up shop, they scoured the whole Triangle for a place with a vibrant neighborhood feel. They wanted something that stood out beyond cookie cutter strip malls. When they saw the location on the ground level of the newly constructed Solis apartments on 9th Street, they fell in love with the space and the neighborhood, which is within walking distance to Duke’s campus.
“It has the look and feel of the original Pie Hole location in LA,” shares Lee. “We also love the fact that there were so many thriving unique businesses and eateries along 9th St. and are excited to be a part of that energy.” Not to mention it has a large outdoor patio attached to it!The Pie Hole’s style is fast-casual with ordering done at the counter by friendly baristas, then the food is delivered to your table. The general vibe is relaxed and casual with modern rustic decor using reclaimed wood (from NC!), raw lacquered black steel, and exposed concrete columns.
The Lee’s are very much invested in the local Durham community. One of their main goals is to work with local businesses whenever possible. Bull City Designs is making some of their furniture, including a huge 16-foot meeting table, interior dining tables and window bar. Bull City Signs did the “coming soon” vinyl window decals you see now, and the large exterior sign is being made by McCorkle Sign on Geer St. Local IT support company Net Friends will be providing the shop’s IT solutions.
“We are in the process of sourcing a lot of our supplies from local vendors and producers as well, such as produce, food, paper goods and alcohol,” Lee says. They are also looking at ways to donate food waste to organizations in need through the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina.
Curt Boone, the General Manager, and first hired member of the Pie Hole team, comes with over 13 years of experience as a KM and GM in quick service eateries, including Café Carolina, Lime Fresh, and most recently, Panera Bread.
Beverly Fleming, the Kitchen Manager, has a degree from Johnson & Wales in baking and pastry and has over 13 years of experience as a baker in establishments such Gigi’s Cupcakes, Coquette Brasserie, Koka Booth, and most recently, NCSU as pastry sous chef.
Filled with Flavors
The Pie Hole in Durham will open with a lot of their popular signature flavors, such as Earl Grey Tea, Mexican Chocolate, and Mom’s Apple Crumble. Savory pot pie options will include Mac n’ Cheese, Veggie Curry and Shepard’s Pie, not to mention their hand pies (strawberry lavender – yum!).“With baking, it’s definitely a challenge to come up with gluten free and vegan options that would meet our standards,” Lee admits. However, they do have a good number of vegetarian options and are open to exploring/experimenting with gluten-free and vegan options down the road.
A lot of the pies, especially with fruit, will be seasonal since they depend on the availability of fresh seasonal fruit. (If they are able to source quality fruit from elsewhere, they will extend the season.) In the fall, for instance, they will have seasonal offerings such as pumpkin, cranberry pear, sweet potato, and turkey & stuffing pot pie, and during the holidays, they will roll out flavors such as peppermint and eggnog.
They will also feature special “weekend-only pies,” like the Cereal Killer, made with Fruity Pebbles and Frosted Flakes!
The large pies are nine inches and available for purchase by the slice and as a whole pie. The five-inch pot pies are meant to be individual portions, and because of the fillings, will be served whole.To maintain freshness, they will have a limited number of whole pies on hand. If you plan to order a whole pie, just give them a call 48 hours in advance so they can carefully handcraft your pie with love and have it ready when you need it.
Coffee that Compliments
Coffee adds an extra layer of comfort to The Pie Hole experience. “Coffee is our comfort, our fuel, and the perfect partner to our sweet and savory pie offerings,” says Lee. The Pie Hole’s beans are Fair Trade and sourced from co-op run and family-owned farms. The beans are roasted by an award-winning micro-roaster who then formulates an exclusive Pie Hole House Blend for drip, cold brew and nitro infused coffee. This blend marries the rich fruit notes of Columbia with rich nutty and chocolate flavors of Brazil. Together, these two origins provide a subtle fruity brightness with a big, chocolate sweetness, and a hazelnut syrup. The Pie Hole espresso is a dark roast that has flavor notes that represent orange, chocolate, almond and cinnamon.The idea is for the eatery to become a community gathering space, whether you’re on a date, out with family, or meeting up with friends. With late night hours planned (open till midnight Friday and Saturday nights and 9 pm other nights), there will finally be a place to go for a drink and dessert after dinner.
The Pie Hole’s anticipated opening in Durham is at the end of next month (July 2017). In the meantime, you can track the shop’s progress and get a sneak peek of what will be on the menu by following their social media on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Photos courtesy of The Pie Hole