Laurie Gray, The Pie Bar
Written by Lisa Khiev
Pies are not only those sweet, warm, and savory treats you look forward to every Thanksgiving. Pies are LIFE! That’s what fans of The Pie Bar might say. The Pie Bar, an independently-owned local pie shop located in Downtown Long Beach is a sweet establishment founded by woman boss Laurie Gray.
Laurie Gray’s story is all about passion and purpose. She and her team spend every day serving the community through her one-of-a-kind pies.
Can you tell us more about how you got started in baking?
I grew up on a ranch where we harvested all of our own fruits and vegetables. My mother taught me how to bake all kinds of goodies including pie, which was my favorite.
And, why baked pies than any other baked good?
I grew up with a stay-at-home Mom who had all the time in the world to bake. Now, fast forward 20 years, I’m an adult – I have a full-time job, a husband, kids. I didn’t have time to bake, my kids grew up with boxes of sweets like twinkies. I feel like there’s a whole generation that missed out on baked goods from scratch, especially pie. It’s a dessert that many people don’t have the patience or will to make. You can quickly whip together some brownies or cupcakes… but pie from scratch? Not so much.
The secret to a good pie is the crust and that’s the hardest part about making a pie. We make all of our dough by hand every day, it’s very labor intensive. To make one pie from start to finish takes about an hour and a half, so who these days, has an extra hour and a half to make a pie?
What was your “A-ha” moment when beginning the Pie Bar?
I remember the exact moment. I spent thirty years in corporate America and decided to leave that world and wanted to do something that I loved, so I started baking again. The Pie Bar was born in January of 2015 and started out of my home kitchen. I was baking 2 pies at a time, out of my oven, sometimes 14 hours a day. If I had 30 pies to bake and could only bake 2 at a time, that’s 15 hours of baking. Those were long days… I would start at 6 in the morning, bake all day, go to bed at 2 in the morning, set my alarm for 6 a.m. and do it all over again. That’s when I realized I was in love, it became my passion and my new path.
Is there a “signature pie” at The Pie Bar?
Yes, we’re famous for our key lime pie. We sell it whole, sliced, cutie pies which are the mason jar pies, and pie shots. I’ve had people tell me they don’t like key lime pie, then try mine and tell me, “this pie changed my life.”
It’s an old family recipe. I’ve had people come from Florida and tell me “this is one of my best key-lime pies I’ve ever had” and they live in Florida, where key-limes come from. We use high-quality ingredients and put a lot of love into them and it shows.
As a woman and small business owner, how do you feel being a part of the LB community?
I love our Long Beach community. I love being a business owner and resident of Downtown. I love interacting with everyone. I get to know my regulars, get to meet out-of-towners and show them all that Long Beach has to offer. I think it’s important as a business owner to be involved in local community.
Do you collaborate with other businesses?
Of course! We collaborate with the Long Beach Creamery, Romeo Chocolate’s, Soy Wax Candles, Black Ring Coffee, etc.. I’m all about small businesses supporting small businesses. Long Beach loves small businesses!
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start something of their own?
I would say surround yourself with a good support network, be persistent, be passionate, believe in yourself, believe in your product. Don’t be afraid to fail, you’re going to make mistakes. I try not to make the same mistake twice though. Don’t be afraid to take risks, and when you do fail, get back up and try again and again and again.