Emporium Pies has recently invested in equipment that eliminates repetitive and strenuous tasks on the body.
Swiss machines roll out the dough and cut it, tasks workers previously did by hand.
“But we still make the dough by hand and crimp each pie with our fingers,” she says.
Portion fillers mean employees no longer have to fill every shell, a repetitive motion that could cause injury over time.
These innovations also make the pies more consistent, says Wilkes.
Pie fillings are still baked manually on a stovetop, and everything is done in batches of 25 pies, a number that simplifies the algorithm.
The pies are baked in two industrial rotating rack ovens that cost around $65,000. The workers roll the grates into the ovens and close the doors without bending down or reaching out.
“The story isn’t that Megan and Mary built a pie shop,” Wilkes says. “It’s that we’ve always had amazing people who are able to help us.”
Pie Palace employees start as bakers-in-training until they have enough experience to become bakers, which comes with a raise, and then shift supervisors. They can move up the ranks and pay scale at their own pace.
A star chart shows who has been trained in what tasks and how familiar they are with them.
Most of the current employees are shift managers, which means they’re able to handle the day-to-day kitchen, Wilkes says.
“It takes a long time to learn everything,” she says. “Our menu changes every few months, so it’s like a year to be fully formed.”