The Ultimate Pie Partnership
After setting up shop, Laurie and Kristin began making a steady stream of new customers happy with slices of everything from chicken to pecan pie. Then, in August 2009, an unexpected out-of-town visitor put their bakeshop on the map.
Oprah and her best friend, Gayle King, were in town attending Eunice Kennedy Shriver's funeral, and Kristin set out to give them some comfort in the form of a chicken pie. So she boxed one up and drove it over to Oprah's hotel.
Although security normally doesn't let Oprah accept edible gifts, Gayle convinced them to make an exception. Good thing they did...the pies were a hit! However, when a reporter from the Cape Cod Times called Harpo Studios to confirm that Oprah had tried Centerville Pie Company's chicken pie, the corporate office denied the claim. Thus, the scandal Oprah affectionately calls "pie-gate" began.
"I don't tell everybody at Harpo every time I buy a pie," Oprah says. "But I fell in love with these pies."
After Oprah dished about this tasty chicken pie, Centerville Pie Company's business began to boom. They went from selling 20 to 40 pies a week to selling 100 to 200 pies a week!
Laurie and Kristin knew they needed extra hands in the kitchen, and after Larry Thayer, the CEO of Cape Abilities, a nonprofit organization that provides job placement and residential services to adults with disabilities, came in for lunch, Kristin came up with an idea. "All of a sudden a light went off," she says. "And I said, 'Larry, is there any way we can work together?'"
That question sparked the perfect partnership. The ladies moved their pie production into the kitchen at Cape Abilities, and today, they employ 30 men and women with special needs. These new employees help with everything from slicing and dicing apples to packaging pies for shipping. Centerville Pie Company also donates 5 percent of its profits to this worthwhile organization.
"There's no doubt that Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of the Special Olympics, would stand up and cheer about that," Oprah says.
Since partnering with Cape Abilities, Kristin, the daughter of a mentally ill woman, says she knows everything really does happen for a reason. "My reason is to help these individuals with disabilities," she says. "What I really hope for Centerville Pie is to duplicate this all over the world."
"The folks at Harry & David tasted your pies, and they love them as much as I do," Oprah says. "They want to sell your pies in their catalogs, on their Harry & David website and in all their stores nationwide! You get the profits, and a percentage of every pie sold will go to Cape Abilities."
"Absolutely!" Kristin says.
And there's more! "Your chicken pie—this fantastic pie—is going to be Harry & David's November pie of the month," Oprah says.
Practically speechless, all Kristin can say is, "Wow."
Oprah encourages pie lovers to try the creamy gravy, tender chicken and flaky crust for themselves. "Each pie is chock-full of so much chicken, I've got to tell you, you won't believe it," she says. "Order two or three, and put them in your freezer."