Tag Archives: Baskin-Robbins

Pies Fly Off Shelves

At 7 a.m. yesterday, Michele’s Pies opened for business.

At 7:01, satisfied customers were already walking out the door.

Westport’s newest – and yummiest – store sits smack in the middle of town.  The old Baskin-Robbins store is prime real estate.

It’s bright.  It’s airy.  It sells treats.

What’s not to like love?

Michele Albano pauses -- briefly -- during her busy first day.

Michele Albano’s “soft opening” yesterday was anything but.  She was busy all day.  A steady stream of customers – moms, high school kids, nearby workers – wandered in; snatched up fruit pies (like apple raspberry crumb, mango pineapple with macadamia coconut cream), nut pies (chocolate pecan bourbon, maple oatmeal rasin) and/or cream pies (strawberry glace, ultimate banana split).

They also snagged a chicken pot pie or broccoli cheddar quiche, maybe a muffin, cookie or brownie and/or a coffee, tea or fruit juice.  And they left smiling.

They hadn’t even tried their pies yet.

This one — Michele’s 2nd store — is not tucked away like her Norwalk location.  Unlike that one, this has pie slices (and à la mode!).

She’ll also sell more bread than Norwalk, including cinnamon and her award-winning challah.

A grand opening is set for mid-April.  That’s right after she returns from the National Pie Championships – oh, to be a judge! – in Florida.

It will be hard to leave her new store, even for a shot at a US title.  Right now, after all, Westporters are showing her plenty of love.

“It fills the void left by Baskin-Robbins,” more than one new customer has said.

Actually, it does more than that.  I’ll take a pear cranberry with walnut crumb pie over bubblegum ice cream any day.

Pies Vs. Ice Cream

The news that Michele’s Pies will replace Baskin-Robbins bodes well for Westport — and not just that segment of our population that prefers baked goods to ice cream.

According to the American Independent Business Alliance, for every $100 spent at a chain store, $13 remains in the community.  When that same $100 is spent at a locally owned business, $45 stays home.

Granted, msot people don’t spend $100 a pop on either baked goods or ice cream.  (Though Westporters are not “most people.”)

Still, you catch my drift.

Money spent at a hometown store goes on to pay local accountants, local PR firms, local web designers, maybe even local furnishing suppliers.

Owners of local businesses buy more of their goods locally.  Most of Michele’s ingredients are sourced around here.  Baskin-Robbins distributes their (admittedly delicious) ice cream in ginormous trucks, from central warehouses located who knows where.

At the end of each day, money spent at a hometown store doesn’t get sent off to the “corporate office.”  The office, instead, is at the back of the shop — or maybe the extra room of a house, a few miles away.

I have nothing against Baskin-Robbins.  I have never tried even one of Michele’s pies.

But — from a microeconomic point of view — the recent shift downtown, from corporate ice cream to home-made baked goods, seems both cool and sweet.


Out went the ice cream (and ice cream cakes).

In comes pie.

A small sign on the vacant Baskin-Robbins window announces the arrival  of Michele’s Pies.

Soon, we’ll join Norwalk with the opportunity to buy lemon lime pie.  Tiramisu pie.  Twisted citrus blackberry pie.  Maple pumpkin pie with a pecan streusel.  Caramel pecan chocolate pie.

Also chicken pot pies.  And Australian beef pies.

Not to mention handmade cookies, tea breads, pastries, cheesecakes, muffins, coffee, cappucino and espresso.

Our long national downtown nightmare is over.

Owner Michele Albano uses only fresh seasonal fruit — nothing canned or frozen.  Even the pumpkins are puréed by her staff.

Michele’s grandmother taught her to bake.  Her creations remind people of their own grandmothers’ pies.  At least, that’s what the website says — and would a pie-baker lie?

In high school Michele sold her pies locally.  She founded her business in her Killington condo in 2006.  Her pies quickly earned a following at farmer’s markets and craft shows in Vermont and Fairfield County.

Michele's pies won 7 (count 'em!) 1st prize ribbons at the National Pie Championship.

In 2007 Michele competed in her first National Pie Championship.  She won 1st prize in the coveted “commercial nut” category, for her chocolate pecan bourbon pie.

When demand outgrew her Killington kitchen, she headed to the big city:  Norwalk.  Her Main  Avenue location was an instant hit — but Michele did not grow too big for her toque.  She was there every day behind the counter, serving customers.

She began selling to local outlets — Oscar’s is a customer — but now she’s ready to expand to a Westport location.

Her little corner of downtown brims with dining options, though they all seem Italian:  La VillaFinalmenteJoe’s Pizza.

Perhaps Michele has a baked manicotti pie up her sleeve.  Or a lasagna Bolognese pie.

All with fresh, seasonal tomatoes, of course.

I Scream, You Scream…

The Mayans say the end of the world will come in 2012.

They might be 2 years too late.

Baskin Robbins has closed its Westport store.  It’s been here since just after the invention of ice cream, back in the Ordovician Period.

According to WestportNow.com, “the owner emptied the store of its contents during the day, offering ice cream to passersby and nearby retailers. The owner reportedly said he could not afford the increased rent demanded by the building owner.”

Because they too have melted away, neither Ben nor Jerry could be reached for comment.