Joan’s Perfect Pie: A Sweet Retreat in Downtown Eau Gallie
By Craig Chapman
Nothing beats the smell of fresh baked goods, especially pie! In a small courtyard in downtown Eau Gallie, you can smell this very scent several yards outside the door to Joan’s Perfect Pie shop. This sweet retreat is a welcome break after a stroll through the art galleries, antique shops, fashion boutiques, museums, thrift stores, and flower shops in the downtown Eau Gallie Art District (EGAD).
Owner Joan Flavin officially started her pie shop a little over seven years ago. She got the pie making bug one day while working at her husband’s accounting firm, “My kids went to school and I wanted to do something a bit more creative. So I started making pies and I started making more and more and more and started running out of people to give them to, so that’s how it happened.”
Once she decided to follow her passion for pies, Flavin dove in head-first and immersed herself in the process. She had no formal baking experience prior to starting Joan’s Perfect Pie, but she did have the desire to do something creative and different.
“Cooking-wise, I really have not had anybody help me with anything. I certainly wish I had because I didn’t know much about cooking at all when I started doing this. It was sort of by trial and error. Certainly by now I can make them come out perfect, but it’s been seven years now (laughs). As far as I know I am the only pie place in town.”
These days Flavin is a pie making perfectionist. With a menu that includes at least 25 pies to choose from at any given time, loyal and new customers certain to find a pie you to love.
“On a normal day, we will have cherry, blueberry, and apple and your basic cream pies, but everyday we will try to throw in something a little bit different like a java pie or something like that.
There’s no real schedule. Apple is always our best seller and our second best seller is peanut butter. Most of what we sell is these little pies. We call them individual pies because most people come in and want to buy a slice of pie, and we don’t do that so we have these individual sized pies.”
Like many small business owners, Flavin has had her ups and downs, but her biggest challenge overall has been location. “I’m set back in this courtyard here and there’s a lot of restrictions on signage so I have a hard time getting people to know I am back in here. Even now I get tons of people coming in saying ‘We never even knew you were here,’ and they live in the area, so that’s my biggest challenge.”
Her advice for other food entrepreneurs reflects on this challenge, “I would say research your location first. More importantly, make sure it’s the right location for what you are trying to sell. I think if you have the right location and a good product, you’ll be fine.”
After winning several national pie championships, Joan’s Perfect Pie started to get a lot of attention. Flavin still has a hill to climb, but she’s up for the challenge and incredibly proud of the strides she has made so far. She has also set some larger, long term goals with her pie business and she’s just as passionate about it today as the day she started, “I’m successful enough to keep three people employed and I am proud of that, but I’m not making a lot of money right now. It takes a lot of time and resources to make these little pies. My biggest aspirations would be to make this bigger then sell it to someone or maybe franchise it out. That would be cool! It would be easy to do because we have our recipes all written out with instructions and I could sell that recipe book and the equipment.”
Patty LaBelle may have brought pre-made pie to the masses, but nothing beats a fresh, out-of-the oven pie from Joan’s Perfect Pie. You get what you pay for at Joan’s, fresh ingredients and a perfectly crafted pie that is hand made with love. No mass-produced, manufactured food here.
At the end of the day, Flavin is happy where she’s at in this stage of her business and her physical location as well, “I like it here and I want to be here. I like EGAD and I want to support it, and people come here now. I am glad to say I bring people to the area who want the pie. It’s getting better all the time!” Getting better all the time is what counts most in the world of food, and the proof is in the pie at Joan’s. ◆