Monthly Archives: May 2016

Plausible Cautionary Tale.

In the last week or so, we’ve welcomed three new members to Team PJP…Andrew, Shelby, and Blake.  And this is all in effort to grow PJP in a thoughtful and meaningful way, starting with the ability to expand our hours starting this Saturday because of additional staffing (or better yet, just two people to work Saturday afternoon that aren’t either of us).  The long term plan makes these past few days of change completely worth it (or, at least, it better, right?) but in the interim, it all just feels messy.  Can someone please cue the refrains of self-doubt?

Someone mentioned to me today, after fully surveying a baking space full of employees, that he knew of a company that ended up losing everything because they tried to grow too fast.  And he probably meant the story as an interesting tidbit of information, but I teetered on the edge of considering it a parable for PJP.  Does he think that about PJP?  Am I oblivious to the cautionary tale he offers?  Or have I just not learned yet to stop taking everything I’m told to heart?  That’s possible too.

I kept myself pretty in check all afternoon until I started to drive home and think about what we spent on payroll today comparative to what was a lower than average Tuesday in sales (though, the day immediately following a holiday is always painfully slow in sales).  And then I started to churn the plausible cautionary tale around in my mind and basically, well, FREAKED OUT.  I don’t mean to brag, but I’m really the best at taking the small thing and making it A THING.  Isn’t that essentially how fear works?

Without question, it would be 94% safer to staff PJP with only Jeanne and I.  (The only reason it isn’t 100% safer is that I reserved 6% for the possibility one of us would kill the other one if we were the only two employees for the consistently long hours.)  It would definitely be cheaper if we were the only two employees.  And less stressful.  And making a schedule would be really easy because we would be the only two on the calendar…all day, every day, forever.

But all day, every day, forever isn’t very interesting…and Jeanne and I are true fans of intrigue.  So we can stay the same and question ourselves or we can try change and question that as well…I’m pretty certain we will bother teeter on the edge of sanity in either scenario.  (I think that is the one thing that guy forgot about us…panic is always guaranteed.)

But here’s the truth…payroll panic or not, everything is easier when the front of PJP is completely stocked with pies.  And I’ve answered emails with more regularity than “oh, every two weeks or so” because I’m not covered in flour 98% of my day.  And Jeanne is working on new recipes (like the new off-the-charts amazing S’mores Pie) because she isn’t completely exhausted from baking 15 hours a day.

There is that to consider, right?



Epic Pie Tasting

Tonight we hosted our May Epic Pie Tasting event, which is the long way of saying that today we baked A LOT OF PIE.  In all honesty, I woke up this morning with a fair amount of anxiety about all of the things to be done today – baking for the store, for orders, for the tasting – and then Behind-The-Scenes-Tech Guru Jason reminded me that it is basically this way every single month on pie tasting day and we’ve survived every single one so far, so we would probably be just fine today.  There is a pragmatist in every relationship…I’ll let you decide who it is in ours.


And, as usual, he was 100% correct…it all turned out just fine.  In fact, for working with a crew with a combined total baking experience of SEVEN days, we did more than fine.  (This was Katie’s sixth day with us.  We hired Andrew on Tuesday and his first day of work was yesterday.) I would suspect that both of them are rather exhausted this evening and maybe just totally over pie.  When Andrew left today, I actually asked him if he planned to come back tomorrow.  He said yes.  Whew.

In a pie tasting first, we actually had a guest so excited to get inside PJP Buttonwood that she got out of her car and left it running…for two hours.  It wasn’t until she left and tried to find her keys that she realized they were in her car.  And the car was on.  BEST. STORY. EVER.

And as usual, we made several new pies to go along with our standard menu.  We made a S’mores pie that was RIDICULOUS.  Without question, you’ll see it soon in our store on a regular basis.  We also made a Watermelon Chiffon pie that was DISGUSTING.  I can’t even tell you.  It was like when you cut up a watermelon and put the slices in Tupperware and then put it in your refrigerator and then promptly forget about it for five or six days and it turns sort of slimy and odd tasting.  Yep…just that appealing too.

On tap for the weekend…three large weddings.  We do always say pie is the new cake.  Katie?  Andrew?  I hope you are resting up tonight because you are going to need the energy for the next 48 hours.  And I’m going to make you promise to come back next week…

Just the people…

Today, we lost Gunnar.  And actually, that sounds a bit dramatic…even for us, so let’s start over…today was Gunnar’s last day before moving to Virginia to start new (non-pie) adventures.  Cue all the tears.  We are seriously going to miss that kid.  SERIOUSLY.  (Thankfully he will be back tomorrow to pick up travel pie.  As one does before a long road trip, no?)

And Gunnar’s departure is just another part of the evolution of PJP that breaks my heart a little bit.  Our original employee, Mitch, graduated from Mizzou earlier this month and is now currently serving with the National Guard in Poland for the next month.  He will be back for a few weeks in June and then will move to Denver FOR GOOD.  And take his ridiculously smart and kind girlfriend Lindsey with him.  (She’s beautiful too, but that goes without saying.  And once she came in at 4 am and tied dozens of tiny forks with ribbon for us simply because we needed the help.  If that isn’t love, I’m not sure what is.)

Mac will be here for the month of June and then he will go to Ireland for six weeks for his graduate research.  And he will take his beautiful and funny and talented girlfriend Kayla with him (and she has spent countless hours at PJP doing whatever we need or just visiting with us).  They won’t be back until late August just as school starts again.  Sigh.

Thankfully Sydney isn’t traveling halfway around the world for the better part of June, July, and August or I’d be teetering on the edge of a staffing-enduced breakdown.

Nonetheless, all this change over the next few months just does me in…


We’ve already hired some amazing new members for Team PJP, so baking wise and counter help wise, I know we will be more than fine.  But working in our 1,050 square feet together for so many hours bonds us together in a way.  Making 3,000 Jelly Jars or folding hamentashen together at 2 am or doing any of the other ridiculous stuff together we’ve done since Mitch and Gunnar’s first days at PJP will make us friends for life.

Now I just need to hatch a solid plan for PJP Norfolk and PJP Denver.  I know just the people to manage them.