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Grand Traverse Pie

Ross Boissoneau - June 20th, 2011
When Mike and Denise Busley announced plans to open a second Grand
Traverse Pie Company store in Traverse City, the reaction from most people
was twofold: That’s a great idea, but won’t it take sales away from their
existing store?
Mike Busley said they had the same thoughts, but thought the two were far
enough apart, with one on each end of downtown Front Street, that it would
work. And a month in, he said they are pleased with both the direction of
the store and the fact the existing location doesn’t seem to be
experiencing any downturn.
“That end of Front Street is different from this end,” said Busley.
“They’re like micro-communities.
“At the west end, there’s Mary’s Kitchen Port, Burritt’s, Folgarelli’s,
us. People drive in, stop, and buy a pie or two or lunch, and are on their
way. At the other end, it’s more people coming in and spending time. When
people come out of Chase Bank or the lawyer’s office, they look around
(for where to walk for food), they don’t get in their car in the ramp and
drive somewhere.”
Thus far that rationale is proving to be true. “We have not affected our
West Front sales at all. We’re trending positive (over last year),” he
said.

DIFFERENT VIBE
And what’s not to be positive about? The new location has a different vibe
than does its forebear, what with a fireplace, tables in the front of the
counter, and expansive folding windows along the entire front of the store
that Busley promises will be open whenever weather permits.
He said the chance to tap into the vitality of the walking area of
downtown is what drew them to that end of Front Street.
“We want to be part of this great energy, like with Friday Night Live and
the Cherry Festival. We just started a Dinner and a Movie program with the
State Theatre. Wednesdays we’ll have a bike ride from Park Street to the
TART, a group ride, not a race, and you’ll get a free slice of pie at the
end.
“Those are the kinds of things we want to do, fun things with pie.”
That includes more than just a movie partnership with the State. Once a
month, Grand Traverse Pie will give away a bike to a youngster attending
the Saturday morning matinees.
It’s all part of the Busleys’ commitment to a city they feel has been very
generous to them in making the Grand Traverse Pie Company such a success.
To that end, they’ve even named this location the Grand Traverse Pie
Community, and intend to donate profits to area charities.
“It’s been a very supportive community, and we sat down and said, ‘What do
we want to do with the proceeds?’ We want to have a place that gives
back.”

LOOKING FOR INPUT
Busley said they are not sure yet how much that will be or indeed which
charities will benefit. Denise has been involved in foster youth and the
Children’s Advocacy Center, and they are both looking for input from their
children Bobby and Kelly, who are partners in this location.
“Bobby is 21 and Kelly is 25, and they basically grew up in the pie
business,” Busley said. Their reward, besides plenty of pie at home, was
the opportunity to have full involvement in this store, including in the
design and planning stages.
Of course, none of this would matter if the products weren’t so tasty. But
from muffins to meals, the Grand Traverse Pie Company – or Community – has
plenty of appetizing options.
“We’re doing more meals here,” said Leigh Ann Walters, one of the new
staffers on board. “They do more whole pies at the other location, we do
more meals and slices.”
The menu includes sandwiches like chicken pesto with roasted red pepper
and a Mediterranean veggie, a variety of quiches and pot pies, salads
including (unsurprisingly) fruits like strawberries, dried cherries and
pears, and for the morning crowd, breakfast sandwiches, oatmeal, yogurt
parfaits and pastries.
Of course, you don’t want to forget the store’s namesake. The pies run the
gamut from lemon meringue and key lime to a host of cream pies: Coconut,
banana, chocolate, peanut butter, butterscotch, even mocha.

CHERRIES TOO
And then there are the fruit pies. Sure, there’s apple, cherry and peach,
but why settle for those (settle being a relative term here, of course)
when you can mix and match with the Lakeshore Berry Crumb, with
strawberry, raspberry, blackberry and apple. Or the Firehouse Strawberry
Rhubarb. Don’t forget the Gill’s Pier Apple Dumpling, with seven whole
apples – made even better with caramel topping. Or ABC, with apples,
blueberries, and cherries.
Yes, don’t forget those cherries. The region’s signature pie flavor gets a
makeover with not one variety, but five: Old Mission Cherry, Grand
Traverse Cherry Crumb, Cherry Peach Crumb, Long Lake Berry Cherry, Orchard
Natural Cherry (with no added sugar), even a Splenda Cherry.
Then there are seasonal pies like pecan and pumpkin, as well as a host of
turnovers, cookies, and other sweet treats.
All told, it adds up to another winner. For Busleys, for charities, and
perhaps best of all, for patrons.

 
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