After every Thanksgiving, Brit Reeves, owner of Simply Delicious Pies (3433 Lee Rd., 216-273-3566, simply-pies.com), treats herself to something special. She deserves it. Most recently it was a new walk-in freezer. In years past she's doubled up on ovens, allowing the shop to bake up to 112 pies at a time.
"There is nothing like Thanksgiving," she says. "We did about 1,200 pies last year. I'm going for 1,500 this year." And that was just in the two days leading up to Thanksgiving.
"Either Grandma or someone in the family used to make pies and the recipe was lost; no one can do it like that anymore," she says. "I hear all the time that something we make really resonates with something from their past."
Apple, pumpkin, pecan and sweet potato are some of the most commonly requested varieties during the Thanksgiving season. Simple, traditional and satisfying, Simply Delicious Pies are preferred by many customers to their own, especially if Grandma is no longer around to make them.
"I'm not shy about it," says Reeves. "I've posted our recipes online. I want everyone to know what's in them and how to make them. If you want to have a go at it I like sharing ideas, but it's easier for us make 100 pies than for someone to get all of the stuff to make one."
Retailing at competitive prices, between $4 and $20 per pie based on size and ingredients, these desserts can save both money and time. Reeves attended the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute, working at a French bakery in Pittsburgh until moving back to Cleveland and opening Simply Delicious Pies with her sister in 2012.
Since that inaugural year, they've garnered a favorable reputation online, growing the business organically by word of mouth. The menu is divided into fruit pies, cream pies, specialty, seasonal, potpies and quiches available in sizes ranging from 6-inch to 10-inch rounds. They've recently expanded into wholesale and hope to start catering more special events and weddings.
For the four-year anniversary, a redesigned website with an online ordering system was put into place, providing an additional option to placing orders in person or by phone. "Thanksgiving just gets crazier and crazier every year," says Reeves, who whips out an old-school book of carbon copy receipt slips to prove it.
"We'd fill up at least two of these books," she says. "I'd have to tear out the page and separate them, alphabetize names, read everybody's handwriting ... . It was just awful." For the petite staff of three, ordering must stay as streamlined as possible in order to pump out enough pie.
On Nov. 25, 2015, a line wrapped around the block as customers waited to pick up dessert to take to dinner. With the exception of cream pies, most can be frozen and reheated by following simple instructions provided on each package, so you can skip the Thanksgiving equivalent of Black Friday. Order online and have them ready to pick up by next day, but be warned that it may take extreme self-control to make it home without a piece missing.
Today, the holidays are far enough in the distance to genuinely enjoy the scent of fresh baked crust and spices permeating the showroom. An enameled antique oven reflects the glow of a neon sign reading, "Open, Pies." A few varieties of sweet and savory pie sit on shelves awaiting walk-in customers, but soon enough they'll disappear. Reeves stands behind the counter, pointing at the chicken potpies in the display case.
"We can't make them fast enough!" she grins.