Dolores Dombrouski started her House of Pies in her hometown of Onaway, with a few rhubarb pies sold in front of her antique shop. Then, joined by her daughter Cindy Sischo, outgrew pie shops in Cheboygan and Petoskey before finding home in the sweet little yellow house facing Crooked Lake on Oden Road in Alanson.
There’s no denying the pair’s fabulous fruit pies are an Up North staple in summertime, but the week before Thanksgiving just may take the cake: demand surges so high, the pair enlists the help of 31 other family members to keep the place pumping out pies 24 hours a day. Says Sischo, “That’s how they get their dinner. They wait on the customers, do the dishes, and keep the showcase filled. We have Thanksgiving dinner here at the pie shop. We fill the ovens with four turkeys, baked beans and everything else.”
The family turns out mincemeat, cream, apple crumb, pumpkin, pecan, sweet potato and so many more delicious varieties. To order, call 231-347-6525.
Foodie File: Cindy Sischo and Dolores Dombrouski, Pie Makers, House of Pies, Oden
We headed to the sweet little house to ask Sischo about the mom-daughter team’s busiest week of the year.
Do you remember the first pie you baked?
Mom taught me to bake a from-scratch coconut cream pie when I was a teenager … which was two years ago.
Tell me about your sweet potato pie.
I lived in South Carolina for 15 years. My neighbor, a true Southern belle, was from Charleston, an old cotton mill town. We took her recipe and put Mom’s touches on it.
What kind of pie did you always have at Thanksgiving growing up?
Pumpkin—my mom’s recipe. She doesn’t use pumpkin pie spice, but rather the individual spices: cinnamon, cloves, ginger.
Not the raisin pie?
It’s an old-school pie, not my favorite, but people love it! Mom boils and thickens the filling on the stove first. What does it feel like to know that pies you made are on holiday tables across the North? It’s like, phew, we’ve got it done! We had 250 orders just for the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and we keep the cases filled.
So how do two bakers keep up with the Thanksgiving rush?
It’s pretty much 24 hours a day that week. All of the 31 family members who come up for Thanksgiving have to work—that’s how they get their dinner.
What pies are at your feast?
Pumpkin and sweet potato, mincemeat for the older generation, chocolate cream for the kids. Another set of relatives like the banana cream, and we also serve the sugar-free pies for my two uncles. And pecan, too. That’s my daughter’s favorite.