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The Inspired Pie Series: May 2022

The Inspired Pie Series: May 2022
Photo: Kate McMillen of Lauretta Jean's Pie Shop

The Inspired Pie Series will take place at Pie Bar from May 2022 - August 2022. Each month a different pie shop + its signature pie flavor will be featured at Pie Bar. Grab a free Inspired Pie Series Passport at Pie Bar and get a stamp for trying the featured flavor. In September 2022, if you have a completed Passport, you will get a special treat from Pie Bar. You can read more about it here.

Inspired Pie Series, May 2022: Lauretta Jean's Pie Shop in Portland, Oregon
by: Lauren Bolden, Owner of Pie Bar
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When I was twenty-five years old, I had a romanticized idea of creating a place where people gathered and all that was served was pie and coffee. I didn’t want to make anything fancy or trendy. I didn’t want to create a place that would be a fad. I wanted to create a place that would grow and change with me all while providing a spot that made me and others feel comfortable and a part of a community.

If I look back now, I can see the influences of Luke’s Diner and Monk’s Cafe. None of those places were dressed up. Instead, they were a place that the same people visited on a regular basis. It was the backdrop to their lives. I wanted this.

Cody and I opened Pie Bar in September 2015. We had an SBA loan for $50,000 and an 800 sq. ft. space that was previously a scuba shop. A diner was out, but a pie shop could work. We built the kitchen in the back and left just enough space up front to add a bar with six stools, a small couch for two, and a 20-year-old refrigerated bakery case that would showcase our pies. We still have that same oldie-but-a-goodie bakery case.

By the end of 2015, Cody and I realized we had a lot to learn. We had survived our first holiday season but knew that to make Pie Bar a long-term business, we needed to learn from people who knew what they were doing.

We launched our first ever Pie-cation in January 2016 and set out across The United States for two weeks. The trip was such a success, that we decided to do it again in January 2017. During that trip, we flew to the Pacific Northwest and visited pie shops in Washington, Montana, and Oregon. One of those shops captured my heart, in large part thanks to the shop’s owner, Kate.

Kate McMillen opened Lauretta Jean’s Pie Shop in 2011 in Portland, Oregon. The day Cody and I visited Lauretta Jean's, we ordered slices of Cherry Pie, Chocolate Pie, and Pecan Pie. As we sat at the vintage wooden table, I felt a sense of connection to this shop and the woman who created it, and I hadn’t even met her yet.

We were there on a mission, and that mission was to connect with Kate and build a relationship with someone that knew the unique challenges and joys of owning and operating a pie shop. After timidly telling the boy working the counter that “we’re here to see Kate,” she came through the swinging kitchen door looking the part of a Cool Pie Shop Owner. Her hair was tied up in a bandana and a white, berry-stained apron was tied around her waist.

She graciously sat with Cody and me for hours as we talked about running a small business, building in procedures for creating large quantities of pies at a time, and my favorite part: a tour of her kitchen and walk-in coolers.

Over the years I have found any way to get inside a restaurant’s walk-in cooler. I find a sense of calm in the silence that comes once the walk-in door closes. All you can hear is the hum of the cooling unit while you get to be surrounded by heaps of fruit, fresh herbs, and bright, beautiful sauces in neatly labeled containers. I can honestly say that Kate’s walk-in was one of my firsts, and she started an obsession that continues to this day.

Kate was the first person I emailed when I thought about the idea for The Inspired Pie Series. She creates pies that are inventive while simultaneously being approachable, a balance that can be difficult to achieve.

During the month of May, Pie Bar will be paying homage to Lauretta Jean’s Pie Shop in Portland, Oregon, by re-creating their Strawberry Shortcake Pie.

It has layers of pound cake, vanilla pastry cream, lightly sweetened whipped cream, strawberry jam, and is topped off with white chocolate curls.

Between the attention to detail and patience that is required to create each layer, this flavor screams Lauretta Jean's to me. 

My hope is that you will visit Pie Bar, sit at the bar, and enjoy a slice of Strawberry Shortcake Pie with a cup of coffee. I hope you’ll think about Kate and her team in Portland as your fork glides through each decadent layer, and when you take your first bite, I hope you’ll see just how special a slice of pie and the moments surrounding it can be.

The Inspired Pie Series is my way of saying thank you to four amazing pie shop owners that I have had the pleasure of learning from, whether they realized it or not. Pie Bar would not be celebrating 7 years of business in the fall if it were not for these people and their pies. 

Thank you, Kate, and the team of Lauretta Jeans. You have created something incredibly special, and I am so pleased that you are willing to allow me to share something of yours with the people of Pie Bar during the month of May.

Want to read my quick blurb from the first time I visited in 2017?
You can see that here.

Spending time in Portland soon?
Make sure to visit Kate and the entire Lauretta Jean's Team. Location + Hours can be found here.