There's more going on in Baker than the drama between the city and El Diablo and Sketch, the two restaurants owned by Jesse Morreale that are indefinitely shuttered after the city walloped the building with notice-to-vacate signs, citing safety issues.
Just a few blocks way, at 300 Elati Street, Tamara Brink and her two partners are getting ready to open the Humble Pie Store in a historic red-brick building that will feed the neighborhood sweet and savory pies, java and ice cream.
"I was an elementary-school teacher for six years and ready for a change, and since I come from a family of bakers, I quit my job to start slinging pies," Brink says, first out of her house and then at the City Park Esplanade Farmers' Market every Sunday, where pie geeks are snapping them up faster than she can bake them. "We've been selling out every single Sunday -- as many as 100 pies a day -- and people are loving them."
So much so that a few months ago, she and her partners made the decision to open a proper pie shop, and the Baker district, says Brink, was ideal. "We all really wanted to be in the Baker neighborhood -- it supports small businesses -- and when we saw this beautiful building, we knew that we'd found the perfect spot," she adds.
Her shop, which will seat around eighteen, will open in mid-August with fifteen to twenty different seasonal varieties (and three sizes) of pie, all of which are scratch-made, down to the graham crackers that she uses in one of her crusts. "All of the pies are created with simple, organic, fresh ingredients, and I'm doing a buttermilk banana cream pie that's made with housemade graham crackers that pretty much makes you want to cry," she warns, adding that her savory pies -- beef short rib, chicken pot pie and vegetables and lentil -- are made with herbed crusts.
And the space, which is embellished with distressed red-and-white brick and high ceilings, will boast hardwood floors and a glassed-in exhibition kitchen. "We want people to be able to see us baking, and we also want the space to feel like you're stepping back in time," says Brink.
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"Our goal is to create the best damn pie you've ever had," she concludes, and while you'll need to wait a month or so before gracing the shop, she'll continue to peddle pies at the farmers' market every Sunday through the duration of the season. "Come and get one," she says. "They're fantastic."