Amanda and Malcolm Hope loved pie.ology so much they bought it four years ago.
“We were customers of the previous owner. She was selling and moving out of the city," Amanda says. "It started off as me saying to Malcolm, wouldn’t it be cool to buy the business?”
“It basically made us weekly customers of the Thunder Bay Country Market," Malcolm says. "Before pie.ology we’d go to the Market occasionally and check the place out, but when we discovered pie.ology we fell in love with the product. We were there every week on a Saturday and it was our first destination, we’d go upstairs and grab hand pies and walk around the rest of the Market.”
One of the appeals of pie.ology is their unique grab and go format, all the delicious varieties of a pie with the convenience of holding it in your hand as you walk and shop, or having a lunch break that’s fresh and fast.
Amanda and Malcolm have stuck with the classic recipes regular customers knew and loved before they took over, as well as including their own recipes over the years.
“The previous owner had three or four hand pies a week at the Market, we are averaging about eight every Saturday," Malcolm says. "We listened to the customers, we heard what they had to say right from the start. They were looking for more vegetarian options, they were looking for more breakfast options, more fruit pie options, basically they wanted more varieties. It became the mantra in our heads, would this work in a hand pie?”
With anything from cheeseburger hand pie, pizza hand pie, mushroom and Swiss hand pie, as well as five or six fruit pie options, Amanda and Malcolm have expanded their options to suit their customers dietary needs and flavour preferences.
“We did keep some of the core favourites as well, some of the things the previous owner did very well that were very popular with the customer base, so we’ve taken that and kept those hand pies and expanded from there,” Amanda says.
Amanda and Malcolm endeavour to incorporate local food sources into their recipes as much as possible. Local meats, vegetables and cheese are used in their recipes as much as possible.
“When we’re planing new recipes we think about what we can get hold of from local suppliers.” Malcolm says. “Cost is a factor, of course, but we do our best whenever we can.”
Amanda explains, “A lot of our suppliers are actually fellow vendors at the Thunder Bay Country Market. We co-ordinate with them, we get our eggs on a Saturday, our pepperoni, our ground beef, our cheese and other ingredients that we use in our hand pies.”
In addition to their booth at the Thunder Bay Country Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays, pie.ology has their own store where people can buy on the spot or order in advance. This coming winter they plan to expand their shop hours, and offer more hot hand pies and frozen selections.
“We have a lot of people come in and buy frozen hand pies.” Amanda explains, “I think we’re going to expand to offer hot hand pies on the days that we are open at the shop, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. We’ll have our seasonal Christmas menu coming out, probably the beginning of December, we’re hammering out the final details for that.”
Malcolm says there are other seasonal ideas in the works.
“For Robert Burns day in January, I did a haggis hand pie, which turned out to be incredibly popular. Many ex-pat Scots appeared out of nowhere wanting to buy half a dozen haggis hand pies,” he says.
They are always looking for recipes to incorporate with seasonal festivals and holidays like Cinco de Mayo, Easter and Thanksgiving. There’s a pie for every party and occasion.
“The one thing we’re really trying to highlight now that we have our shop running; people have gotten into the mind-set that they come to the Market on a Wednesday and we have maybe five or six different hand pies and on a Saturday we’ll have eight or nine," Malcolm says.
"They buy frozen hand pies off that list, and we keep telling people: ‘Come to the shop because anything that we have in the freezer is available, and there might be over a dozen different varieties of hand pies. There’s a lot more choice at the shop.”
pie.ology is located at 119 May Street South in Thunder Bay and is open from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays and from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm on Fridays.
Phone: (807) 631-3056
They are also Booth No. 6 at the Thunder Bay Country Market, open Wednesdays and Saturdays.