Following a global contest, five fledgling brands competed for a cash prize and the title of The Perfect Pitch at the Fast Casual Executive Summit on Oct. 10 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The companies’ executives addressed Summit attendees as well as a panel of advisors who offered advice on how to grow their concepts.

Advising this year’s contestants were Jim Balis, managing director of strategic operations group for CapitalSpring, Zack Oates, founder and CEO of Ovation, and Max Sheets, founder and CEO of last year’s The Perfect Pitch, Chick N Max. The event was sponsored by Ovation.

In the end, Flake Pie Co. took home the 2022 prize.

Co-founders Rick Timmons and Todd Smith introduced the advisory panel to their concept, Utah-based Flake Pie Co. The brand sells sweet and savory personal-sized pies. The goal of Flake Pie Co. is to make pie a more personal and more frequent dessert. The personal size allowed each person in a party to choose their own pie flavor.

The brand first opened in 2020, right in the middle of the pandemic, with about 10 flavors of pies ready to go. Pie flavors include raspberry, chocolate and caramel, key lime, banana, apple and cookie dough, with names like Apple of My Eye and Greatest Dough on Earth. Seasonal favorites include Who Squashed the Cheese, a cheesecake and pumpkin pie with pecans and salted caramel, and Life’s a Peach, with peaches, streusel topping and a maple drizzle on a signature crust.

The brand also originated, Flakies, Flake’s handmade version of the toaster pastry.

Sales for the company’s first calendar year was $907,000 out of just over 1,100 square feet. The brand did over $9,000 in sales on Pi Day, March 14. Flake Pie Co. wasn’t just built for holidays but also for corporate events, weddings, date nights and family get togethers.

A three-pack box was designed at a slight discount.

Flake Pie Co. opened its second store in the spring of 2022, leaning in on the nostalgia of pies and introducing indoor seating.

“During the pandemic, people ate a ton of desserts,” Smith said. “It was more kind of comforting to them. They tend to hold up well. The other benefit of desserts is that people are almost immune to pricing. They’re willing to pay a little bit more to treat themselves.

“We’re both from the Midwest where pies are a part of life. They’re not as big of a thing in Salt Lake so it’s been a little bit of an education for people, gravitating from the big $10 Costco monster (pies) to personal sized pies. We think it travels great.”

Timmons said staffing is different than a typical fast casual, as with baking you need to get ahead. “We tend to run early morning shifts with bakers in the back,” he added. It’s easier to staff because there are no ticket times.

Timmons and Smith are working on opening their third restaurant just doing off-premise sales.

I got to try the samples Flake Pie Co brought,” Zack Oates, one of the advisors, said. “it was delicious, giftable, and packaged beautifully! With such an experienced team behind the concept and some great initial online reviews, I have no doubt there is a great future ahead for them.”

The Perfect Pitch nominations came from around the world, and the editorial board at FastCasual selected the five brands to make their pitches at the Summit. Besides Flake Pie Co., the other finalists included New York City-based Bango Bowls; Hot Chickn Kitchn in Woodbridge and Stafford Virginia; Asian concept Lazy Susan in California and Paradise Smoothie Juice Bar out of the Atlanta area.

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