A great piece of pie can be like a slice of heaven, so when I stepped into the Maui Pie shop in the Azeka Mauka shops in Kihei, my mouth was watering with sweet anticipation. This cute pie shop in Kihei, sandwiched between Ono Gelato and Taco Bell, has a huge selection of pie. It’s not surprising that owners Ryan and Kellee Houghtaling told me that pie is their passion.
“I grew up in my parents’ pie shop, but through my college years I always thought I was going to do my own thing,” said Kellee. “My husband Ryan and I settled near Ann Arbor area. He was doing automotive repair and I was doing marketing for a truck accessories company. Our hearts just weren’t in what we were doing. We were ready for a move of some sort. We had been vacationing on Maui. Ryan proposed to me on Maui. We got married on Maui. Every time we had to leave I would just bawl. We just love this place and the energy it has.”
Ryan said the idea of a pie shop kept slipping in.
“We were in the process of a big change, but we weren’t completely set on what,” said Ryan. “Since Maui felt like home to us, it made sense that we wouldn’t root ourselves too deep in Michigan. We thought that the best way to get into that dream is to do something that someone else had already done before us that could help us, guide us through it.”
After the honeymoon on Maui, they decided to go all in on pie.
“We moved in with my parents to do a pie bootcamp,” said Kellee. “We got married in March and moved in to learn pie making in June. We were newlyweds, living with my parents in my childhood room, with our dog. The whole thing was crazy. We were on the clock full time at the bakery as bakers. They have a whole different system, and they have a fast casual restaurant that does sandwiches and stuff, but we just focused on baking the pies.”
Ryan had never baked a pie before the bootcamp.
“I had always been into food, mostly savory,” says Ryan. “But I felt I needed to know how to bake a pie. Our parents’ recipes were the springboard for our shop. We basically took the idea of their recipes and developed it into our own. Nothing is the same, really. We gained about 50 pounds during that process.”
The idea to drop everything and go somewhere far away to make pies is not far fetched. It’s apparently in Kellee’s blood.
“My dad was working for an aerospace company and my mom was in medical sales living the corporate life in San Diego when they decided to do pies,” she said. “I was 11 when we moved everything to Traverse City, Michigan to start a pie shop called Grand Traverse Pie Co. All of a sudden I had hardcore winters with snow! They started their pie shop in 1996–it was a little shop at first but they kept pushing walls back and getting bigger. They started franchising, and now they have 16 stores.”
When they first arrived on the island they were making pie at the Lokahi Pacific kitchen and selling at the swap meet. But they quickly outgrew that. People wanted to pick up pies through the week, not just Saturdays. They had people coming to their home, or meeting in parking lots.
“We started needing our own kitchen because we were getting people who wanted pies everyday,” said Ryan. “But to use the Lokahi kitchen we had to book a few days in advance. So we couldn’t just whip up pie anytime.”
They found the little spot that had been a pizza place for less than a year.
“We were meeting people at the Foodland parking lot to do pie deals,” Kellee said. “I was thinking this must look strange. I swear I’m only selling turnovers! I loved being at the swap meet. I hope I can get back there this fall. We started thinking, Maui is really going to embrace us. You never know ’til you know. Then we got this place. It was a pistachio pizza place. It was ‘pistachio’–I found the can of paint. Ryan had to do a lot of the building out. The counter, the paint, all these changes were him.”
The Maui pie shop has an incredible selection of pie flavors. The day I was there they had mango strawberry, raspberry peach, apple, blueberry, cherry, strawberry rhubarb, Northshore berry and mountain berry in fruit pies. Cream pies included lilikoi, key lime, chocolate, coconut, chocolate haupia and banana. The chocolate pies use Waialua chocolate produced on Oahu. Their pies come in a large nine-inch version and a mini six-inch version.
Kellee said the signature little heart in the middle of their pies is reminiscent of Grand Traverse Pie Co. but the pie-making style is all their own.
“I feel like we have been guided this way as far as what the island needs and what space we can get and work with,” said Kellee. “Space is a hot commodity. So you know what, let’s start out with what we know and we do really well and that is pie. We also do pie adjacent products, cookies, muffins, turnovers, coffee cake, pot pies and quiche. For the most part, pie is our bread and butter.”
Their most popular pie is the chicken pot pie. Kellee said they ate it a lot to sort out exactly the flavor they were looking for.
“I don’t know how many months we just ate pot pie breakfast, lunch and dinner,” says Kellee. I would still love to have it breakfast, lunch and dinner, but I had to pump the brakes. I have to moderate my consumption.”
Ryan said their team of bakers gets to do the tasting for new products now.
“Our team get to do the tasting now,” he said. “They know what we are looking for when we are testing something so they have to taste. The level of freshness, the texture and flavor they know what to look for. We also have some repeat customers we give test products to.”
They also make a few flavors of quiche for savory pies. You can pick up what is on hand at the shop, or if you wanted to say, omit the onions, just order one to your specification 24 hours in advance. You can also find their pies on the menu at Da Kitchen, Andaz, Fat Daddy’s and The Market in Wailea. Their pie shop also has free wi-fi.
1280 South Kihei Road
Kihei, HI 96753