Tag Archives: Michele’s Pies

Cake Box Comes To Town. Sweet!

The dessert gods have once again smiled on Bay Street.

Five Nearly two years after Michele’s Pies closed, The Cake Box has opened. Just a few yards away — across the road, in space formerly occupied by a hair salon — Westport’s newest bakery is already drawing raves.

It opened Friday, in response to local customers who drove all the way to Ridgefield for the delicious goods at the Cake Box there. (Owners Jordan Gregory and Robert Byrnes also operate Ridgefield Swoon, a gluten- and nut-free version of the store, with vegan options.)

Managers Greg Neil and Olivia Horne — she’s a 2008 Staples grad — get daily deliveries from the Ridgefield kitchen. Among the items: specialty cupcakes, cookies, brownies and tea loaves. Some are gluten-free.

Cake Box 2

My favorite so far: the stracciatella cupcake (vanilla with chocolate chips, and light buttercream frosting).

Greg says sea salt adds special flavor to many items.

What? No cakes at The Cake Box?

Not yet. They’re coming soon.

For now, customers can order cakes to be delivered here.

Word of mouth — about mouth-watering goodies — travels fast.

“It’s been incredibly positive,” Olivia says. “I’ve never seen any place so well received.”

The Cake Box is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. They’ll extend their hours to 8 p.m. this summer.

That will be an added treat.

The Cake Box has opened at 10 Bay Street.

The Cake Box has opened at 10 Bay Street.

Michele Bakes Her Last Westport Pies

Michele Stuart — owner of Michele’s Pies on the Post Road, across from the old post office — writes:

We are closing our Westport location this Sunday (July 20). We will relocate all of our business back to our original Norwalk location, and our Norwalk store will remain open. It is just 10 minutes from our Westport location.

We are excited about many new ventures. For example, we have been selling our pies on QVC. We also are excited about catering desserts for wedding, corporate events and private parties. Based on many requests, I will also do pie-making classes in the near future.

Michele Stuart, in her Westport store.

Michele Stuart, in her Westport store.

I have a young family, and I look forward to focusing on new opportunities that will allow me more family time. I thank Westport for all of their support over the last 3 years. Westport holds a close place in my heart, as I have lived here since I was 10. I am honored at the opportunity to have my store in this great town!

Come visit us in Norwalk (666 Main Avenue — Route 7 — near the Wilton line). We’re open Tuesday to Saturday (9 a.m.-6:30 p.m.) We will open on Sundays starting July 27 (10 a.m.-3 p.m.).

Get Your Paper!

Westport is all set to welcome 2 new businesses downtown.

Paper Source is a large store selling, well, paper (plus envelopes, labels and the like). Steven Alan — whose opening is delayed a few weeks — is a men’s and women’s clothier.

Both occupy the new building wedged into the former parking lot between Spruce — the old Town Hall — and Bank of America, just east of Restoration Hardware.

Paper Source, Westport CT

It is, I think, the 1st totally new construction (on an unused site) downtown since 180 Post Road East — Michele’s Pies, La Villa restaurant, etc.

With people (hopefully) streaming in to buy paper and clothes — and eat at the coming-soon restaurants in the old post office, and the basement of Spruce/the old Town Hall, plus crossing the street for Urban Outfitters — the news is good for this stretch of downtown.

But the new building wiped out dozens of parking spots. As Westporters chime in on the possible loss of spaces if the Gunn House is moved across Elm Street to the Baldwin lot, I’m wondering how and why the new construction at 100 Post Road East got a pass.

Making Hay With Pies

When God gave Michele Albano lemons, she made lemon lime pies.

Also apple pies, cherry pies, and caramel pecan chocolate pies.

In anticipation of large Memorial Day crowds passing by — and thronging into — her new downtown Michele’s Pies store, the owner baked plenty of extra goods.

But a brief storm canceled the annual parade.  Suddenly, what looked like great foresight turned into a glut of perishable inventory.

The solution:  give it away.

So — with the grace and generosity of someone who’s been here years, not just a few weeks — Michele donated several dozen pies to the Gillespie Center, the community kitchen just over the hill from Michele’s Pies.

The Gillespie Center benefits from the generosity of countless Westport families — and businesses — each year.  Michele’s donation is one of many.  All are gratefully accepted.

But few have the “lemons” back story of hers.

All About “Art About Town”

If you weren’t at this evening’s Art About Town event — the street festival kickoff for a display of intriguing artwork in downtown store windows — here’s what you missed:

Leonardo da Vinci, Mona Lisa -- we think -- and friends.

No, it's not a piazza in Rome. This is dining alfresco, in front of Bobby Q's. Blue Lemon and Michele's Pies also sold food on the street.

Just another day on Main Street.

Peter Rubino sculpted Beethoven -- to the tune of his "5th Symphony." For a video of the performance, click the YouTube arrrow below.

Michele’s Pies Closing…

…but only while Michele prepares for the National Pie Contest in Orlando next week.

She’s open this weekend, then will shut down for a few days starting Monday, April 4.

If you miss her (and/or her pies), catch the “Today Show” on Friday, April 8.  Westport’s newest baking sensation will appear with Willard Scott.

Then it’s back to Connecticut and reopening on April 13.  Michele’s downtown grand opening is set for April 16 and 17.

We’re salivating already.

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.

Pies!

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.