Lovin Spoonful pies satisfies neighborhood sweet tooth, any way you slice it

Mom and pop pie shop offers all-natural fruit and berry pies
by: Claire Oliver Lovin Spoonful owner Crystal Miller shows off one of her pies, all of which are made from scratch and oven ready.

MULTNOMAH - From her small shop in Multnomah Village, Crystal Miller is serving up an easy, gourmet dessert option for the holiday season.

Miller, owner of Lovin Spoonful, began selling her all-natural, made-from-scratch fruit and berry pies wholesale in December and opened up her storefront, located at 7825 S.W. 35th Ave., in April.

In a 'rise from the ashes' story, she before moved to Portland from Alaska after her divorce.

'I had to reinvent myself,' she said.

Miller said she used run a restaurant with her daughter, who introduced her to strawberry rhubarb pie. After that, she decided to cut her overhead costs and work with one product - her pies.

Miller's creations are sold at Strohecker's Market, Lamb's Garden Home Thriftway and Food Front Cooperative Grocery, and she said they will be available at New Seasons and Whole Food markets by Thanksgiving.

She also runs a booth at the Beaverton Farmers' Market and caters to special events as well.

Applying the 'Papa Murphy's concept,' Miller makes her pies in 10' deep dish rounds that are ready for customers to take, bake and enjoy hot from their own ovens - the best way to enjoy pie, she said.

Each pie weighs three pounds, including two pounds of fruit, and so a little goes a long way, Miller said. And each crust is made separately using an old-fashioned rolling pin.

People love pies, but they often don't have the time to make them, don't want to deal with the mess or simply don't know how.

'And you can't really get a decent pie off the store shelf without additives or preservatives,' she said.

Miller's no-hassle option, on the other hand, works for everyone.

'The demographic is unlimited,' she said.

Lovin Spoonful's standard fl avors include apple - a recipe for which she won the blue ribbon at the state fair - blueberry, marion blackberry and strawberry rhubarb - her biggest seller.

Miller also offers a flavor of the month, which, for November, is Southern-style sweet potato pie.

She said she can also make special order pies with 24 hours' notice in custom flavors or gluten-free and sugar-free varieties.

Because hot pies are not always popular dessert options during warmer summer months, Miller also developed a line of ice cream pies that she sells whole or by the slice year round. Flavors include peanut butter chocolate tuxedo, white chocolate strawberry shortcake, German chocolate cake and banana split extravaganza.

'They're pretty decadent,' she said.

Miller said she sells her pies as fast as she can make them from her 'hole-in-the-wall mom and pop shop.'

'There's a buzz about it,' she said. 'People say it's the best pie they've ever had. They have a bite, they buy a pie.'

Although she hadn't heard of Multnomah Village before moving to Portland, she said she's gotten lucky with her location.

'I've realized what a little gem it is,' she said.

Miller said neighbors have told her there hasn't been a pie shop there for at least 15 years, so she's happy to fi ll that niche.

Her original goal was to take Lovin Spoonful's pies statewide within her first year of business and nationwide by the end of her second; so far she's on track, she said.

'It's been a lot of hard work, sweat and tears,' she said. 'It's a labor of love, and it's a nice way to make a living.'

To learn more, taste test Lovin Spoonful's pies during Multnomah Village's monthly First Friday events, or visit www.lovinspoonfulpieshop.com.