Owner Annika Corbin of I Like Pie believes that pies should be an individual experience from the very first bite.
“We are committed to the individual pie,” Annika said. “We’re a destination brand where you can come in with 10 friends and get whatever you want.”
Before becoming a pie shop owner, Annika was working from home as an interior designer while her husband Rob worked as a residential homebuilder. They had once lived in Claremont as part of Rob’s job relocation. After moving multiple times around the country, Rob got laid off in 2010. At the time, the couple were living in Maryland and decided to relocate back to Claremont to try a different venture.
“I’m a serial entrepreneur in my head and I’m always coming up with ideas that are more challenging,” Annika said. “I love the idea of taking something and making it extraordinary.”
Annika’s first idea was to open a cupcake shop when the dessert was at its peak popularity in the early 2010s. When she realized another similar shop was near the space she wanted to rent, a friend convinced her to open a pie shop instead.
“There were no innovations with pies for thousands of years,” Annika said. “The answer was to create individual experiences with different pies in a box to warm in the microwave.”
Annika didn’t have the knowledge about making pie, so she enrolled at the American Institute of Baking in Kansas for two years to perfect her craft. During this time, National Public Radio had proclaimed that 2011 was “The Year of the Pie” as the next big thing in dessert. In 2012, Annika opened up her first I Like Pie location in Claremont and the Pasadena store followed this month.
“Claremont has a charming community and Pasadena is like a giant Claremont with walkability and a small business community feel to it,” Annika said. “We have seen an outpouring of support.”
Annika said that the I Like Pie name was inspired from a combination of the R&B band The Four Clefs’ “I Like Pie, I Like Cake” Lindy Hop song and the catch phrase “I like pie.”
“The phrase had come back into dialog where middle-aged kids were using it to diffuse a conversation with their parents,” Annika said. “We liked a name that is a statement.”
To make the perfect pie, Annika buys from vendors who purchase local and natural ingredients. One of the secrets to the pies is the crust formula.
“It’s magic,” Annika said. “It makes the pies better all the way around because it remains tender and flavorful, it’s not overworked.”
I Like Pie carries 10-inch whole sweet pies ($49 to $52), savory pies ($12.75 to $13), mini pies ($3.50 to $4), “handpies” that are sweet ($8.99) and savory ($11.50), and jelly jar pies ($8.50 to $8.99), which are cupcake shaped pies with crust around all sides, a filling and whipped cream or a garnish on top. Gluten-free and vegan options are also available depending on the flavor and size of the pie.
Annika claims that her business was the first one to create the jelly jar pie concept.
“Each jelly jar pie is a work of art,” Annika said. “We’ve taken the time to perfect it and are always changing it to perfect it even more.”
The pie shop has a rotating seasonal menu. Best sellers for fall include the apple pie with tart apples mixed with cinnamon sugar and topped with a cinnamon shortbread crumble; lemon Danish with creamy lemon curd, a sweet cream cheese center and a shortbread crumble topping with drizzled glaze; salted caramel banana cream with bananas, creamy vanilla pastry cream and salted caramel topped with whipped cream and salted toffee bits; s’mores with a graham cracker crust, chocolate ganache and a chocolate pastry cream topped with a toasted homemade marshmallow and chocolate square; and traditional pumpkin with creamy spiced pumpkin in a traditional pie crust topped with whipped cream.
“We keep the apple, chocolate chip chess, cookie butter, mixed berry and chicken pot Pies year-round,” Annika said. “The savories (chicken pot pie, turkey gravy with harvest stuffing and the spicy potato veggie handpie) in Pasadena have been selling at twice the rate.”
Customers can look forward to the winter selection of hot chocolate, lemon bar, lemon berry, mixed berry with cranberries and peppermint bark cream pies. In the spring, the banana split, pineapple upside down, strawberry rhubarb, strawberry shortcake and shepherd’s pies will be featured along with a strawberry handpie. Summer will include the lemon buttermilk, peach cobbler and peaches ‘n cream pies along with a peach handpie.
“We try to make each menu that signifies you’re in that season,” Annika said.
I Like Pie also has a special offer where customers can get the 12th pie free when they buy 11 jelly jar pies. There is also a loyalty program where customers can sign up and accumulate points to receive a free jelly jar pie.
“We’re going to have a holiday assortment with our specialty flavors and it comes with a ribbon and gift tag,” Annika said.
In the future, Annika sees I Like Pie expanding throughout Southern California. A big space commissary in Upland is also in construction for future baking classes.
“We want to have Los Angeles as a centric location and are also looking at Orange County (for future pie shops),” Annika said.
I Like Pie
WHERE: 38 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena
HOURS: Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Christmas Eve from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., New Year’s Eve from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.