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Story #60Friday Pie ClubYarmouth, ME

Instead of trying to sell lard by itself, we knew we were going to have to do some customer education.

It was lard that sparked the idea, not pies. Meghan Fennell and Charles Fischman wanted to sell and promote cooking with healthy animal fat, but knew that they would need a palatable vehicle to demonstrate its benefits. Fennell happens to be a self-taught baker who specializes in pies, and Friday Pie Club was born. They rented a kitchen in the basement of a non-profit in Yarmouth, Maine, and started out by delivering their pies and turnovers to friends and family on Fridays.

Why lard? In recent years, cooking with animal fat has seen something of a renaissance as new information about the healthy effects of saturated fats has emerged. In addition to being considered a “healthy fat,” lard can be produced from the fat of pigs raised on Maine farms, as opposed to imported cooking oils. Lastly, lard lends itself extremely well to savory pies and turnovers, a bestseller for Friday Pie Club.

Fennell and Fischman have a strong interest in the local food movement. As a method of distribution, Friday Pie Club partnered with four area CSAs, using ingredients from that week’s share to make pies or turnovers for CSA members. In summer months, they participate in farmer’s markets and farm-to-table dinners with local farms. “We felt it was important for us to support all the great work that farmers are doing in Maine and to incorporate sustainable and local foods into our product,” says Fischman.

This community-driven approach is a significant part of Friday Pie Club’s business, and is also how they overcame one of their biggest challenges early on: finding a space to work from. Unable to afford building one from scratch, they rented the commercial kitchen in the basement of Yarmouth’s non-profit 317 Main Community Music Center. They now have a retail shop on the first floor, and with their landlords, are hoping to organize gatherings at the space, for people to come together, listen to live music, and enjoy pie and coffee.

Looking ahead, Fennell and Fischman hope that they can continue to spread the word about eating local, using lard, and potentially bring their business to other small towns in the area. “We want to be part of vibrant Main Streets,” says Fischman. “We see so many great small towns in Maine, and strong local businesses helps towns to be more viable.”

 

Photos by Luke Boelitz

 

*Since the publishing of this story, this business has closed its doors.

  • Meghan Fennell offers a customer change from behind the counter. Coffee from the local roasting company, Big Barn Coffee, is also available at Friday Pie Club.

  • Charles fills the second of two Lemon Chess pies that they will bake today.

  • Meghan Fennell and Charles Fischman pose on the steps of 317 Main Street Community Music Center where Friday Pie Club’s kitchen and shop are located. “We want to be part of vibrant Main Streets,” says Fischman. “We see so many great small towns in Maine, and strong local businesses help towns to be more viable.”

  • Meghan Fennell and Charles Fischman pose with their chalkboard sign outside 317 Main Street Community Music Center, where their pie shop and kitchen are located. Looking ahead, the pair hope that they can continue to spread the word about eating local and using lard, and potentially bring their business to other small towns in the area.

  • A father and daughter enjoy some snacks before her group voice lesson at the community music center in Yarmouth, Maine, where Friday Pie Club is located.

  • A young girl smiles from underneath a table in Friday Pie Club’s cafe space. Many of their customers are the students and families involved with the music center that houses their shop and kitchen.

  • Meghan Fennell and Charles Fischman of Friday Pie Club take a break for lunch. They’ve made a salad with some of the fresh greens Meghan received from Keena Tracy when she visited Little Ridge Farm.

  • Meghan Fennell stops to visit another farm with which Friday Pie Club works, Little Ridge Farm. Friday Pie Club attempts to purchase most ingredients from local sources - including the fat to make lard.

  • Farmer Judson Arndt’s new chicks are almost ready to be let out of their coop and into the yard. Friday Pie Club sources eggs from Arndt’s farm in Lisbon Falls, Maine.

  • Meghan Fennell picks up eggs from local farmers Kathy and Judson Arndt. Fennell and Fischman are proud to buy from local farmers. Says Fischman, “We want to support the great work that farmers are doing in Maine in what can be very challenging economic circumstances.”

  • Charles Fischman cuts the pork fat Friday Pie Club will render into leaf lard for use in their baking.

  • Charles Fischman updates the Friday Pie Club chalk sign before setting it up in front of 317 Main Street. Unable to afford building a kitchen from scratch, Fischman and Fennell rent the commercial kitchen in the basement of Yarmouth’s non-profit 317 Main Community Music Center. They now have a retail shop on the first floor, and with their landlords, are hoping to organize gatherings at the space for people to come together, listen to live music, and enjoy pie and coffee.

  • Lemons cook in a pot in preparation for making lemon-rosemary syrup for the house-made sodas Friday Pie Club offers in the café instead of bottled beverages.

  • Meghan Fennell prepares the filling for Friday Pie Club’s first rhubarb pie of the season. Fennell and Fischman are advocates of cooking and eating on a seasonal and local basis, and primarily use locally-sourced seasonal ingredients in their baked goods.

  • Charles Fischman of Friday Pie Club fills a compost bucket as he makes a pie filling. As part of their commitment to sustainability, Friday Pie Club composts all of their food waste.

  • Charles Fischman weighs out dough to make pie crust in the kitchen at Friday Pie Club. Although using leaf lard in baking may seem unconventional now, the flavor lends itself especially well to savory baked goods.

  • Meghan Fennell and Charles Fischman share a laugh behind the counter of their pie shop and cafe, Friday Pie Club. They started the small business a little over a year ago as a way to introduce the concept of cooking with lard, a healthy, locally-sourced alternative to other healthy fats such as coconut oil or olive oil which often come from Southeast Asia or the Mediterranean.

Business Details

Proprietor: Charles Fischman & Meghan Fennell
317 Main St. Yarmouth, ME 04096
PH: 207-458-0438 / Website
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