CMPL hosts Detroit bakery founder

By: Alex Szwarc | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published November 18, 2019

 Sister Pie founder Lisa Ludwinski signs copies of her cookbook Nov. 12 at the Clinton-Macomb Public Library North Branch in Macomb Township.

Sister Pie founder Lisa Ludwinski signs copies of her cookbook Nov. 12 at the Clinton-Macomb Public Library North Branch in Macomb Township.

Photo by Alex Szwarc

MACOMB TOWNSHIP — The day before Thanksgiving is Lisa Ludwinski’s “most magical day of the year.”

Close to 50 people attended Ludwinski’s presentation Nov. 12 at the Clinton-Macomb Public Library North Branch in Macomb Township.

Sister Pie, founded by Ludwinski, is a bakery in Detroit’s West Village on the east side of town on Kercheval Avenue. It opened there in 2015, serving pies, cookies, breakfast and lunch.

What makes Thanksgiving so enjoyable for Ludwinski is that most of the shop’s 16 employees are working the day before.

“It’s cold and there’s this energy that the people lining up outside the door bring, and there’s the moment when we open and everyone picks up on the energy we’ve been creating for hours,” she said. “I feel so grateful, and we accomplish so much within those days.”   

For the past two Thanksgivings, as will be the case this year, the bakery has produced 1,000 pies.

In college, Ludwinski and her younger sister started calling each other “Sister Pie” as a term of endearment.

“Years later, when I realized I’d be opening my own food business around Thanksgiving, Sister Pie came to mind,” she said.

Ludwinski, 35, of Detroit, explained the bakery’s history, the process of writing a cookbook and answered questions from the public.

“Lisa went from selling pies out of her mom’s kitchen in 2012 to running her now world-famous Sister Pie bakery,” CMPL North Branch librarian Phil Skeltis said. “Her cookbook has sold more than 40,000 copies.”

In the fall of 2012, Ludwinski launched Sister Pie on Thanksgiving out of her parents’ Milford kitchen, making 40 pies. The next year, she enrolled in the Build Institute business class, joined FoodLab, and continued to sell pies and cookies via email blasts to family and friends.

By 2016, Sister Pie was offering pie dough classes a couple times a month to eager home bakers.​

Her cookbook, “Sister Pie: The Recipes & Stories of a Big-Hearted Bakery in Detroit,” features 75 recipes, including many fan favorites, and was published in October 2018.

“We’re a local bakery with a national voice and have a lot to say,” Ludwinski said, describing how writing a cookbook came about. “I had to figure out all the recipes that would go into the cookbook and make sure everyone’s favorites were in there.”

One business principle she picked up prior to launching the company was a triple bottom line mission.

“It’s a mission to make decisions with people, planet and profit in mind,” she said. “This incorporates other elements that grow a more sustainable people-friendly business.”

After graduating from Kalamazoo College, Ludwinski moved to New York City to pursue theater.

“I got distracted by food and was reading food blogs all the time,” she said.

Knowing she didn’t have the budget to attend culinary school, Ludwinski began filming a cooking series from her apartment, producing over 100 episodes.

She then worked at a New York City bakery, realizing she enjoyed professional baking.