Life of Pie: Long Beach business bakes pies from scratch, offers Pi Day Deals

The Pie Bar is still open but will not host a Pi Day pie eating contest, as a precautionary measure against coronavirus COVID-19.

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Kristen Farrah Naeem | Signal Tribune

A slice of Dutch Apple Pie from The Pie Bar at 450 Pine Ave., Long Beach.

The Pie Bar in downtown Long Beach is preparing for its busiest day of the year tomorrow, Pi Day.

During the homonymous holiday honoring the mathematical concept of pi, The Pie Bar will be offering discounts all day for the fourth year in a row. Slices of key lime pie will be on sale for $3.14, with other flavors also discounted at $5 a slice and chicken pot pies at $7.

When owner Laurie Gray first began her annual Pi Day Party in 2017, customers lined the sidewalk for hours. The successful business decision came three years after Gray left her stable corporate job, deciding to take a risk on her 15 year dream of opening a pie shop.

Gray has been baking since childhood, and always loved to spend time in the kitchen learning from her mother.

“My mother taught me how to bake when I could barely reach the counter tops,” Gray told the Signal Tribune. “I loved it and I loved being in the kitchen with her.”

These childhood baking experiences are reflected in The Pie Bar’s menu, including lemon bars made using her grandmother’s recipe, and the Marionberry pie she grew up eating. Marionberries are a type of blackberry native to Oregon, commonplace during Gray’s childhood in the Pacific Northwest.

“We have them shipped in fresh because I think it is the absolute best berry for pie,” Gray told the Signal Tribune. “Baking has so many family memories tied to it for people.”

Despite her lifetime love of baking, leaving her corporate job to start her own business was difficult decision.

“It’s hard to walk away from the comforts of a corporate job – steady paycheck, paid health care, 401K, paid sick and paid vacation, especially when you’re raising a family,” Gray told the Signal Tribune. “But in October 2014 when the opportunity presented itself I took a giant leap of faith. I would say running your own business is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have in life. And also one of the most stressful and terrifying.”

Gray noted that for women who are business owners and mothers, it’s like having two full time jobs.

“Raising a family and running a household is a 24/7 job,” Gray said in an online message. “Add a new business to that, which requires every waking moment of your time and energy, and you can burn out very quickly. Luckily, my children were in their late teens and pretty self sufficient. I don’t know how moms with younger children run a home and a business. You have to be organized and able to handle multiple priorities and multitask constantly, which I think women excel at.”

And The Pie Bar is excelling, with it’s key lime pie being the top seller for the last five years. The real key lime juice gives a tartness to the pie that is balanced by the sweetness of its graham cracker crust and whipped cream.

All of The Pie Bar’s pies are also made from scratch, and customers can buy whole pies or by the slice, as well as Cutie Pie Jars that contain small layered pies sold in glass jars.

On Pi Day, March 14, The Pie Bar will be open from 11am to 10pm. Besides discounted pie, all beer, wine and cider will be $2 off, while Sangria will be $3.14 a glass.

Unlike previous years, The Pie Bar will not be holding a Pi Day pie eating contest, as a precautionary measure against large gatherings that could potentially spread coronavirus.