How it all started. 2013 & 2014
THE IDEA STARTED the night before Halloween in 2013 when Geri Chua invited a few friends for an early celebration of (yet) another birthday for Nick. She surprised him by ordering in some pies from Bronzed Aussie pie shop in downtown LA. The pies were good.
Nick left the next day on a trip to Abu Dhabi and Austin for the F1 races, and trackside at the Austin race he bought another couple of pies from the Boomerang Pie Company. These pies were also pretty darn good.
Nick got back to LA and he and Geri started thinking it would make a lot of sense to have pies available on the West side of LA.
They visited with Ryan and Jai at Pie Not in Costa Mesa (also makers of very good pies), and had a chat with Samantha at Bronzed Aussie to see if there were ways to work together. All good discussions. All nice people. All good pies. But it was clear that if we were going to make pies for West LA, we need to do it our way. In terms of flavors, ingredients, style, price and quality.
So we met with our friend Chef Joe Youkhan, who happens to be the greatest, smartest, chef on earth and told him we wanted to open a pie restaurant.
He thought we were nuts.
In March we wrote a business plan and we entered into an agreement with Sam & Dave at Vittoria coffee - because we knew we had to have the best coffee on earth.
In April we leased 668 square feet at 2510 Main Street, in Santa Monica. it was the recently moved Manchego restaurant space. Nick used to live and work within 1/8 of a mile of the location. He knew it was right.
In May we had Joe making lots of pies and sides and tastes. We knew we wanted to make truly great food. Our ambition was to give the Aussies (and the rest of the world who knew what an Aussie Pie was), "the best pie they had ever eaten". For the rest of our customers (90%), we wanted to give them remarkable food - and palace that they would feel comfortable to be at - alone, with their mates, and to make new mates..
We had our friends to tastings. We scrubbed and cleaned and built out the space. We got ready.
On June 1 we invited 70 friends and family to come to a tasting at the shop. Almost 200 came. They were (very) happy with what we were making.
We spent the next few months - working through the permitting process to get open. Its never easy.
Despite all the suggestions and offers - Moscow, New York, Sydney, Little Rock to name a few, we don't plan to franchise.We think we will expand with a larger kitchen to do more catering and food service contracts,but who knows what the future holds.
On October 15, 2014 we officially opened The Aussie Pie Kitchen, 50 weeks after Geri bought some pies for Nick to celebrate his birthday.
2015, 2016, & 2017.
Highlights of activities.
- In Nov 2015 we opened our main production facility/ commissary (which includes a small second retail store) at 11918 Aviation Boulevard, Inglewood CA 90304. We call that location "EL SEGUNDO" as it is our second location and it feels more like El Segundo area than Inglewood.
- We spent about a year trying to get a third location in the Runway Project, in Playa Vista. Ultimately we passed on the opportunity.
- In February 2015 we very quickly (6 weeks from getting the key to selling pies), opened a third location on Sunset Boulevard in North Hollywood. We very quickly closed that shop in July 2015. Too far. Too much of a resource (time & money) suck.
- Yelp rates us #1 savory pie in USA
- Our catering business grows very steadily - especially office lunches - whether direct or through numerous catering partners
- We start offering delivery via partners like Grub Hub, Door Dash, Post Mates, Caviar and UberEats.
- We do our first wedding. Thank you Julie & Noel
- We do our first few wakes & memorial services. RIP.
- We do our first bridal shower. Thank you Kym & Robert Herjavec
- We do our first gala (875 people - 3 courses). Thank you Heal the Bay & Name Events.
- We did our first craft services on set. Thank you Nickleodeon
- We did hundreds of company lunches, breakfasts and happy hours. Thank you everyone.
Where it has evolved to - 2018 and beyond
Since 2014, we learned a lot, did a lot, made a lot of mistakes, and had a huge nember of successes.
At the end of 2017, we decide to shift strategy, and focus - away from instore retail - to focus on 4 key sales channnels
- National Shipping
- and ultimately frozen food in supermarkets.
With this comes the decisioon to close our first store - Santa Monica. Completed September 15, 2018, 205 weeks after the journey began.