It’s one of those hot and sticky summer-come-too-soon days when I walk into Petee’s Pie on Myrtle Avenue. The shop opened just a few weeks prior, but it already feels like stepping into an established neighborhood business. The blush-pink walls flush the space with warmth. South facing windows bathe the black and white checkered floor in afternoon light.
Then the smell wafts over me: butter, stewed fruit, yeast. The pies sit on cake stands arranged across a grey marble countertop. Each is more tempting than the last; I sit down between the sesame chess and Hudson Valley apple pies.
The Petee’s Pie Shop on Delancey Street had been bursting at the seams, but owners Petra and Robert Paredez (partners in life and in business) had decided to stop looking for a new space. The holiday season loomed in the distance and she was pregnant.
But when Petra spotted she empty storefront at 505 Myrtle Avenue in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, something felt right. She called the number on the FOR RENT sign; no one answered. Disappointed, Petra figured it wouldn’t work out. Nevertheless, she looked up the property online. She found herself talking to a person from the local business improvement district who knew the landlord. He called her back half an hour later and they made a deal.
When she and Robert first started thinking about expanding, they sought out a larger baking space, but the Myrtle Avenue location felt like a café to Petra. The previous tenants ran a longtime neighborhood fixture, and the couple liked the idea of having a welcoming, family-friendly location. And it ended up being exciting to think about how to expand the menu. As a small, self-funded company, Petra said, “We do a lot with a little. We have to work more creatively within certain parameters.”
Petee’s in Brooklyn includes a full espresso bar and biscuit sandwiches for breakfast. The lunch menu features a selection of soups, salads and sandwiches on house-made bread. They are planning on a liquor license soon—think boozy milkshakes and pie-and-drink pairings. Supporting the regional agricultural economy remains central to the business, too; they still use hundreds of pounds of local butter every week and are incorporating seasonal vegetables into the new menu.
Opening a business with a four month old and a toddler isn’t without its challenges. Her four-month old son spends most of his days at the bakery, and while it can be exhausting, Petra likes having the chance to raise kids in a family business of her own. “I like not having to compartmentalize my life,” Petra said. “It was a bizarre decision, but it’s really perfect.”
Read more about the pie store’s story and how they’re reviving forgotten New York pies in Edible Manhattan’s 2016 holiday issue.
Photos courtesy of Petee’s Pie Co.