Bang Bang Pie Co. at 2051 N. California hopes you'll stop by beginning Saturday. They actually tweeted that they'd open Thursday, thinking that that would make for a soft opening and only be seen by some friends and neighbors. Of course, it was immediately picked up all over the Chi-food-internet-o-sphere. So Saturday, that's the ticket for their handcrafted pies, which they've been selling from a pie truck for about a year but will now offer in their own Logan Square storefront with wi-fi and "non-traditional bakery" atmosphere. We talked with co-owner David Miller about why pie, what kinds they'll offer, sweet vs. savory and many other subjects of pie import; our interview follows below.
So tell us the basics about your pies.
The menu will change every two weeks. We'll have three to five pies at a time, and some of them will be classics that you can offer year-round, like the banana cream pie that we'll open with. But it's also a very seasonally-driven thing, dependent on what we find that's fresh at the market. So like right now, citrus is in, so we'll have our Shaker lemon pie, it's kind of a custard pie. And we have a chocolate chess pie— it's 72% dark chocolate, with a blood orange olive oil and maldon flake sea salt on top.
Come spring we'll have lots of berry pies, in the fall we partner with a pumpkin pie grower and make our own pumpkin pie. Each season has a staple— blueberry in the spring and summer, apple in the fall, Shaker lemon in the winter. We'll always have that staple on hand.
We're going to let our customers help decide what our next pies will be. Like, we'll put four choices up on the internet and people can vote what the next one will be, and then we'll make it.
Let's talk about apple pie. Paula Haney at Hoosier Mama said that when she was thinking about starting up, apple pie was the baseline— there was no point in being in the pie business if you didn't have a kickass apple pie.
We don't have apple right now because it's not the season, but we've made three different kinds of apple pie that are pretty amazing (laughs). We have an apple crumble— that's one of my favorites— an apple double crust pie, and an apple with whiskey meringue. We love using liquor or beer in pies.
Yeah, we made a shoofly molasses ale pie and partnered with New Belgium on that, and made a pie with Guinness around St. Patrick's Day. We're also in talks with a sake company that reached out to us about a Cloud 9 pie. We like working with liquor!
Anything else you want to tell us about the shop? Like... biscuits?
So we'll have our own coffee that we roast on our roaster that we rent from Dark Matters. And in the morning we'll have biscuits with jams— some housemade, and some of the really good preserves that are made around here. Like Rare Bird, they make awesome jams. They're amazing. We tried a bunch but they're just awesome.
We'll be open 7 to 7 Tuesday through Friday, and 6 to 6 on Saturday and Sunday. Oh, and we're going to have this huge outdoor area where we'll have an urban garden. We're going to start by growing our own rhubarb for our pies.
Will you do savory pies?
Maybe. That's something we'd potentially expand into if there was demand for it. There aren't a lot of lunch choices around here, so we'll see. We really like sweet pies, though.
So, did you grow up in a pie household?
Yeah, I did. I don't like cake, I always had pie for my birthday— my birthday's in October so I always had a pumpkin pie. I'm kind of obsessed with pie. I love that you can make a pie out of almost anything.
What about your wife (and fellow partner-baker)?
Megan's obsession is strawberry pie, which we're about to get into strawberry season. She worked in the cupcake industry in Portland for a while, and as a baker for a great bakery up there that's closed now called Bower's Bakery.
Our third partner is a former food critic named Michael Ciapciak. We met him through the food truck; he was about to go intern at Hoosier Mama and we had a similar vision for the shop as a casual, neighborhood place that didn't feel like a traditional bakery— kind of more of a cool bar feel that serves pie. We plate the slices like a restaurant dessert, we don't just have them sitting in a case.
So how did you come to have a pie shop?
I'm originally from Florida, but I came here for journalism school. And I used to spend a lot of time at Metropolis drinking coffee. It was the first time I ever had coffee that actually tasted like it smelled. And I read the stuff they put on the wall about where they got their coffee. And that got me really excited about farmers, and sourcing things ethically. And I got to know one of their roasters really well. So I started roasting my own coffee, and I had a coffee shop called Ipsento.
Eventually, Megan and I switched to wanting to make pies, but with pretty much the same outlook about how you make something good.