For the last few years, pie chef Sol Schott has relied on the kitchen space at Columbia Pike’s Twisted Vines Bar and Bottleshop to whip up his wares — now, his Acme Pie Company is taking over the storefront.
Schott told ARLnow that he signed a five-year lease this week for the space at 2803 Columbia Pike. It’ll be the first brick-and-mortar location for his baking business, after he spent years selling his pies wholesale and offering them up at local farmers markets.
“It’s really terrifying, but weird and exciting,” Schott said. “This just sort of fell into my lap.”
Schott said he’d been toying with the idea of opening a physical location for a while now, but he felt compelled to act as he faced a stark choice at the start of the new year: “I had to either move the kitchen or take over the lease.”
That’s because Twisted Vines owner Tony Wagner decided to shutter the wine bar at the end of last year, along with the nearby BrickHaus beer garden, to focus on his new Italian restaurant in Penrose Square. Schott had relied on Wagner’s oven for his pie-baking ever since he launched Acme back in 2013, and he suddenly found himself without a home when Wagner closed up shop.
Though he examined other potential locations, Schott said he ultimately decided to try and stay put in the Pike space (he lives in nearby Douglas Park, after all) and he was eventually able to strike a deal with its landlord.
Schott is now envisioning a “1920s or 1930s pie bar” for the store, befitting his business’s throwback name. He’s also planning a bit of an old-school schedule as well — Schott hopes to keep his wholesale business going, so he’ll be hard at work baking pies from about 5-10 a.m. each day.
If anyone stops by the store while he’s slaving away at the oven, he’ll run upstairs and sell them a freshly baked pie.
“I’ll have a baby monitor or something out front so they can talk to me,” Schott said. “People used to do that back in the day, they’d ring a bell or something… It’s unconventional, but it makes no sense for me to just be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day.”
When the store is open (likely starting around 2 p.m. each day), Schott hopes to still serve whole pies and pies by the slice, with many of the same flavors he currently bakes up. Options include everything from sour cherry to Scottish apple.
With the new store, he also plans to offer some “fancy sodas” and other sweet treats as well.
“If you’ve got pie, you should probably have ice cream,” Schott said. “And if you have that, it’s pretty easy to make milkshakes.”
He expects to offer limited coffee options, buying his beans from Misha’s Coffeehouse in Old Town Alexandria. But he doesn’t think he’ll get more complex than just drip coffee or a french press.
“As long you don’t come in there and think you’re going to get a vanilla macchiato or whatever, you’ll be OK,” Schott said. “I don’t know anything about it, I can’t compete with those other coffee places.”
So long as all goes well, he plans to open the shop for hungry customers by April 1. Schott says he has some painting to do “to make the place not feel like a wine bar anymore,” but otherwise already has many of the permits he needs from the county.
And considering that Schott says he’s already heard from a bevy of friends and customers excited about his new venture, he expects it should draw a crowd right away.
“I want it to be a fun place, a place for the community,” Schott said. “But my idea is kind of off the wall.”