The Pie Shoppe
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Par Diane Duflot

A Pint-Sized Pie Shop

When sisters Stephanie and Andrea French first opened The Pie Shoppe in December 2012, they pulled it all together — the physical space, as well as all the permits necessary to open a bakeshop — in just 13 days. So how did they manage to launch a small business in less than two weeks? Stephanie credits their success to their incredible network of friends. “We were lucky, from the start, to be able to rely on a group of very talented people who would pitch in," she explains. "Everything here is built by our friends. All the art on display is done by our friends. We first opened using a small beer fridge from my friend’s dorm and a home oven.”

Measuring a mere 310-square-feet, the Gore Street pie shop might be one of the city's smallest storefronts, but that doesn't stop the French sisters from turning out some of the tastiest pies in Vancouver. Sweet and savoury pies are prepared fresh daily with flavours and fillings changing in accordance with the seasons. Dessert pies are sold whole or by the slice, while savoury pies are available to take home and bake. Pie enthusiasts are advised to arrive early as these scratch-made creations are available from 11:00 am each morning until the kitchen runs out.

Although The Pie Shoppe's original beer fridge and the home oven have since been replaced, the sisters have maintained their tight-knit group of friends, and have developed close connections in the local community. “We work with a ton of people in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland,” Stephanie explains, “One of the companies we work with, Sons of Vancouver, is a local distillery that makes the only Amaretto in Canada. Last year, we saved our apricot kernels for them, and they used them to make their Amaretto. They gave us a really nice bottle of Amaretto to thank us, and we’ve been incorporating it into our pies.”

Our recipes are simple. There are no additives or preservatives. We bake every morning, and we sell through the day. We don’t buy any pre-processed fruit; we process it ourselves, and our friends help. - Stephanie French, co-owner
Pie bakers Stephanie and Andrea French behind the counter at their pint-sized specialty bakery.
Stephanie and Andrea French behind the counter at their pint-sized specialty bakery.

Recipe for Success

When it comes to baking, the French sisters have perfected a sweet-and-simple recipe for success. “Our recipes are simple,” says Stephanie. “There are no additives or preservatives. We bake every morning, and we sell through the day. We don’t buy any pre-processed fruit; we process it ourselves, and our friends help.”

Maintaining these high standards hasn't always been easy, especially when trying to cater to customers' not-so-seasonal tastebuds. “We work in a city where people want what they went, when they want it," Stephanie says. During The Pie Shopppe's first year in business, Stephanie and Andrea stored as much fruit as possible in preparation for the winter, but had run out by spring. “We ran out of fruit,” Stephanie explains, “so we made more custards, more caramel fillings, more chocolate, but people lost their minds! People wanted fruit. They wanted all the fruit, all the time.”

Although they eventually had to accept that it’s not possible to please everyone all of the time, The Pie Shoppe sisters are clearly proud of what they have built. “We’re at a really cool place now,” says Stephanie. “All of our fruit is from the Okanagan and the Fraser Valley, and we buy directly from farmers. All of our flour is organic, all our dairy is local. That’s what we were hoping to achieve, and we have an incredible clientele — actors, creatives, filmmakers, people of all ages — who support that.”

Pies on display at The Pie Shoppe in Chinatown
Sweet and savoury pies are baked fresh in house daily with flavours and fillings changing seasonally.
Customers can pair a slice of pie with brews from Panoramic Coffee Roasters.
Customers can pair a slice of pie with brews from Panoramic Coffee Roasters.

The Slice is Right

Tucked away on a quiet street bordering the edge of Chinatown and Strathcona, The Pie Shoppe's off-the-beaten-path location adds to its charming neighbourhood vibe. The French sisters are aware that their intimate bakeshop is in an area of the city where some people are struggling financially, so it's important to them to produce high-quality pies while remaining accessible and affordable as much as possible.

“Neighbourhood kids will come in and spend their pocket money on a slice of pie on the weekend,” says Stephanie, “so we’ve kept our apple pie at five dollars.” Not a bad price for a slice of heaven!

The Pie Shoppe is located on Gore Street on the edge of Vancouver's Chinatown neighbourhood.
The Pie Shoppe is located on Gore Street on the edge of Vancouver's Chinatown neighbourhood.
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