Once a vacant storefront on the corner of Kercheval and Parker Street, a new (but not unfamiliar) business will open its doors this week to the West Village neighborhood. Brown paper has been stripped from the windows at Sister Pie's new brick-and-mortar shop, while purple, white, and yellow pansies fill exterior planters and mismatched mugs around the building.
Inside, with the exception a stray shop vac and some missing bar tables, the business looks fully operational. At a metal worktable behind the bakery's decorative plywood counter, owner Lisa Ludwinski is already mixing pie dough in her freshly completed kitchen space. Ludwinski, who founded Sister Pie in Fall 2012, says she hadn't always planned to open her business in the West Village. However, after discovering this space, just a stone's throw from Parker Street Market, the baker says she immediately felt a connection to the building. "I really like the feeling of community here and the way that you can walk around and people are actively doing that. It felt like a good place to be."
A set of large windows wrap around the front of Sister Pie, giving the interior a light, cheerful feeling and a direct connection to the street. Features like a communal table and a seating nook reemphasize the community experience at the bakery, which owes much of its funding to community support. Along with personal business loans, Ludwinski helped fund her project through a Hatch Detroit grant and funding from an Indiegogo campaign.
The café space was designed with help from Laavu Studios' Kaija Wuollet who worked on Gold Cash Gold and Detroit Institute of Bagels. Ludwinski describes the final product as "feminine" with many personal touches including a wall made from salvaged doors that separates the main dining room from the kitchen's sink area and a black and gold cabinet with glass doors that was donated by Ludwinski's grandmother. White walls contrast with black chalkboard paint where menu specials will soon be posted.
On the counter sits an antique wood and glass display case that will eventually house scratch-made baked goods including buckwheat and shortbread cookies, scones, and by-the-slice pies. Additionally, Ludwinski says that visitors can expect seasonally cold or hot buckwheat breakfast porridge, vegetable galettes, yogurt with house-made granola, Populace Coffee, and loose Kilogram Tea from Intelligentsia.
After months of bouncing between planning meetings, baking, and deliveries, Ludwinski says she's grown as an entrepreneur. "I'm learning how to take the good with the bad and recognize when it's a battle worth fighting, because there's so many things coming at me every day including just making pie dough," she says. As she nears the opening, Ludwinski says she's excited to move on to the next chapter in her business.
"Building a bakery it's never been about the amount of money I make . . . but you don't go into the food industry because you want to make a lot of money. It's because it's an exciting life. That's what's worth it to me."
Updated, 04/22, 12:54 a.m.: Sister Pie will open on Friday. For the most up-to-date information, follow the bakery on Instagram. Sister Pie's hours will be Tuesday through Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; closed Mondays.