Some of his ideas may appear pie in the sky but the basic principle of Matt Cunnah’s business is sound enough - there’s profit in pie.
Matt only opened Pie in Trinity House Lane, Hull, in November. The launch caused a stir among people who wanted a different lunch option, Christmas was good and 2012 began with a refurbishment that has created more space and more jobs.
“We found that people like what we do so we tried to make the place a bit nicer for them,” said Matt, who learned the ropes in catering to support a passion for playing music and who honed his skills at restaurants in France and Canada.
“Instead of sending them away with a pie in a box we gave them a relaxing area in which to sit and take a break from work, shopping or whatever.”
The focus is on pies with a difference, containing such fillings as slow roast barbecue pulled pork, sausage with chorizo and borlotti bean, roasted butternut squash as a tempting vegetarian option.
Other innovations include Pie vouchers – “They made great secret Santa presents” – and concessions on the menu to people who prefer a lighter lunch or who... whisper it... don’t like pie!
“We do stews and carvery sandwiches and for people who want something less substantial we also offer soup, which has proved very popular,” said Matt.
Plans for the future may include delivery services to businesses and possibly pubs in the Old Town and elsewhere in the city centre, seating outside the premises and possibly a presence at local food and music festivals.
“I would love to do a pie night with different types of pie for starter, main course and dessert,” said Matt, who sources all his ingredients at the nearby market.
“At the moment we only open from 11am until 4pm but we’ll aim to build on that. Lunchtimes are manic but the new seating area gives people somewhere to come for a break in the afternoon, even if they don’t particularly fancy a pie.”
The seating area has been fitted out and decorated by Matt with a little help from his friends. There are books, including one about pies, pictures on the walls and more art to come from contacts at Hull College. The background music draws on Matt’s preferences for jazz, funk and old soul.
“We started work on the refurbishment on 29 December and we opened again on 6 January, and it’s gone really well,” said Matt.
“We expect January to be pretty quiet, because everyone has their credit card bills to pay after Christmas, but hopefully there will be happy times ahead for everyone. I’ve got four people working here now and it would be nice to increase their hours.”
Kathryn Shillito, Hull BID City Centre Manager, said: “It’s great to see Matt bringing something completely new to the city centre, doing so well and creating jobs.
“He worked closely with Holy Trinity Church during the Christmas activities and that helped to put Pie on the map. We look forward to working with him and hopefully getting Pie involved in some of our events and activities during 2012.”