The World Needs More Pie

"Give a Piece a Chance." — Books. Blog. Pie Classes. And a Pinch of Activism.

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Day 10: TV Pilot — Pie with a Mission, PART I

We arrived at Mission Pie at 8:00AM on Thursday. The early start time didn’t bother us as we arrived to a warm and cozy atmosphere, nice people, and good, strong coffee. Oh, and a lot of pie.

There goes the neighborhood….in a good way. The location of this pie shop is intentional and a way to affect positive change. Though the local majority Latino population isn’t the most obvious pie-eating clientele, the owners of Mission Pie, Krystin Rubin and Karen Heisler, make it their mission to serve affordable high-quality food, drink, and pie to everyone regardless of nationality or race. Besides, Mission Pie is a destination. People come from miles around just to buy their pie. One look at their robust pie display and you can see why word about their pie — both sweet and savory — is spreading beyond the Mission District.

We watched a steady stream of customers come and go — and buy pie — all morning. This 3-year-old venture is a for-profit business and we want to see them stay in business for a long time to come. Looks like they are well on their way. They already doubled their space after a year and a half.

It’s the little touches like this pitcher of “locally grown” water that demonstrate Mission Pie’s environmental awareness — and remind the rest of us to follow their example. You won’t find plastic water bottles in this establishment.

You also won’t find pecan pie here. Instead you’ll find walnut pie. Why? Because pecans are not locally grown, walnuts are. As for the carbon footprint from the bananas in their banana cream? You’ll find more custard than bananas in this one, but it doesn’t make the pie any less popular. When Janice told the nurse in the ER we were coming to Mission Pie the next day, the nurse said, “You have to try their banana cream.” Even when you’re trying to do the right thing, it can be hard — especially when people love your pie.

My favorite part of the day was hanging out in the kitchen with co-owner Krystin Rubin and her production manager, Danielle Benson. (See pics of them below, kneading and rolling dough.) Janice teased me later that it seemed like I was trying to get a job here. Why wouldn’t I want to work in a place that is so intent on helping others and making the world a better place through made with all-natural ingredients pie?
One of Krystin and Karen’s long list of tenets is to hire challenged youth from nearby Mission High School and from social organizations, teach these “interns” not only how to bake and to interact with customers, but show them how work can be a positive experience, an experience that will shape their futures. Many of these interns become full-time employees at Mission Pie or go to have professional baking jobs.

This is not your average corner bakery! This is a whole community-building Pie Movement. And if Janice and I don’t sell this TV pie-lot as a series, I just may apply for a Mission Pie job.

NEXT: Sampling the pie at Mission Pie. We ate so much it required a second blog entry. Read “Five Easy Pieces” to vicariously enjoy what pie we got to try.