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A Mere Confession

Listen, I've been wearing flannels for years. This is a mere confession, as I can't stop and I won't stop. We  all know people like this. People kind of loud about what they do well and even louder about what they don't. People who think that by virtue of a defensive admission, they've become less culpable in the messes they make. Man, I told you I was gonna spill that milk, man. That milk was ready to spill.

Or, hey, I'm an outspoken person...I just tell it like it is

How many times have you heard that: I just say what's on my mind. I don't have a filter.

And you're all like,  okay great!  That doesn't give you carte blanche to say dumb, irreverent things at the most inopportune times! There's nothing more honest about being that kind of idiot. 

But I refuse to acknowledge flannel wearing as a problem and thus, as Jason Isbell has said, I ain't never gonna change because I ain't doing nothing wrong.

So, all that is to say, there's nothing really wrong with Butt Rock (point three might be the most fitting definition) in the sense that taste is subjective and you have to find the lane of traffic your most comfortable in, and then drive there, you know--the rest of the thing be damned. I've just found that post-grunge stuff, for example, really isn't my thing. I'm not going to hold it against Collective Soul that the greatest chorus they ever wrote was, MMMM......Yeeahhh. That's the sound I make when I'm eating a cheeseburger. So we have that noise in common--it's not a personal thing. But it's why I ask people who work for me what records they're listening to or what books they're reading. I ask them this before they're working for me.

And I want them to answer the question so I can quietly make wild and baseless judgments about who they are as people based off of the types and kinds of media and music they're consuming.

Look man. I'm just being honest here. This isn't a me problem. If you can't handle it, it kinda sounds like a you problem. I didn't make Collective Soul suck. That's not my problem.

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Words mean things

I went to McDonalds the other day because of the PlayPlace. My kids wanted to run around with a few friends' kids, which turned into them running around with all kinds of kids--most of whom I did not know. So, I couldn't yell at them (the ones I didn't know) for making loud animal (?) noises and acting drunk. I just sat there and dreamed about yelling at them and that felt pretty good. 

I ordered an Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich (TM) and a side salad. When I asked the cashier if they had fat-free salad dressing she paused, looked down at he register, pressed a few buttons, paused again, and said, "No." She looked as if she took offense to the question, so as to preempt anything further I told her that I usually ate like an idiot and was just getting used to asking questions like, "What menu item will kill you the slowest?" She pressed a few more buttons. Turns out the answer is low-fat Italian dressing.

I sat down and before I opened the sandwich box observed a moment of silence for the word Artisan. Call me old-fashioned, but words should mean something. That word has been tortured; its meaning expunged; its corpse sent from from some nondescript corporate boardroom and  laid to rest on cardboard for the masses. The sandwich was--all things considered--pretty good, if not undersized, but the packaging wasn't fooling anyone. 

When we talk to food distributors, we find ourselves trying to explain the concept of ingredient lists. And, I know what you're thinking. Ingredient lists aren't concepts. They're nouns, man. They're things. Hand the list over, get the ingredients. But with some of the bigger guys, it's not simple. They're constantly trying to push pre-made pastry shells, fillings full of preservatives, proprietary mixes and coatings. They push this stuff off to people as artisanal too, when really--its never about the raw material and it ain't real food. That's frustrating for us in a way because certain words and phrases are bandied about carelessly and to the conscious consumer, it's easy to become skeptical of gasbag droning on about the virtues of the Artisan Chicken Sandwich as a menu item delivered to an audience of roughly 33,000 restaurants. Skepticism bleeds, man.  And we feel a little silly here because we're not trying to be self-righteous about the work involved in our products and the arduous nature of working with simple ingredient lists. We understand that no one is buying the branding, but we would've called the thing Pretty Good Grilled Chicken Sandwich. That's all we're saying.

Because it's a pretty good chicken sandwich and there's nothing wrong with that. That's all we're saying.

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Go forth and be caffienated

We don't mean to project. Like, we're into something but we don't mean to assume that everyone else is, then, into that something. There has to be a word for that, other than father-in-law, for the person who doesn't understand that taste is subjective. 

But, we're really into coffee. The stuff has a hold on us. Those beans, they're our little, oily opiates, man. We're subjugated. I once tried quitting coffee, but I got a headache. Then I puked. Knees were really bent, man. I'm a healthy addict. Some of you probably are too. Judge us. Whatever. We stand here accused, drinking. But, we like experimenting with the coffee stuff too. Not just out of necessity, but because it's kind of fun. So we're trotting out a bigger coffee menu at Rule of Pie. 

We're serving a Dirty Hippie. The Dirty Hippie is a hot chai latte with a shot of our espresso. We serve it with scratch made whip. The big un' is a double shot. This is the part where someone makes a joke about Rick being a big, dirty hippie. We're fine with that. Apparently, Starbucks has something like this on a secret menu. Secret menus are really something I don't understand. Like, if the thing was good enough, it wouldn't be a secret. It'd move from a secret, a thing customers use smugly (I KNOW THE SECRETS. I'M SUCH A SMART COMPANY MARK. DO YOU EVEN STARBUCKS, BRO?) to a thing worth promoting and selling.

We're serving a Vagabond Mélange. The Vagabond Mélange is a nod to our decaf customers, recognizing that they kind of get the shaft with us not having a decaf espresso blend. The drink is Jen's Joe Mexican decaf, Madagascar vanilla and our signature whip.

We're serving a Snow Shovel, which is a scoop of our homemade ice cream dropped into some Steam Shovel brew. We flavor it with a lot of variety: chocolate, white chocolate, peppermint, etc. 

We're serving a White Lighting. White chocolate syrup, double the espresso of a standard latte, and steamed milk. 

We're serving a lot more variance. I'll quit naming for now and hope that you come check it out. 

If you have ideas, drinks that you might want us to replicate or think about building on, let us know! 

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Radio Silence

Dear Readers, 

We're sorry for the near radio silence this past week and a half. With holiday orders finally finished and the holidays themselves thrust squarely upon us, we had to take a little time off. Maybe not for safety's sake in the sense that no on here was ready to start lighting their persons on fire, or playing in traffic, but we were ready to drink things through a funnel and sleep for days at a time. We know that's a bad place to be, especially when you're not in college anymore. So we had to put things down and walk away.

Rule of Pie will be back, up and running on Jan 13, 2016 (Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 8a-530). We'll be serving the usual pies and all sorts of other stuff in 2016 I can't tell you about yet because I'm not sure if their good ideas, but I probably won't be talked out of them because there's nothing more in this world we love more than our own ideas.

And because some of you have asked, we'll confirm. Rule of Pie will be expanding at some point in the sort-of-but-probably-not-too-near-kind-of future. We've made some preparations and have a few ideas. The kids want to open up some kind of ice cream fountain and think that soda jerks are funny because they're jerks. They think dad would make a great one. Miranda likes the idea of  a brunch menu. Rick likes dark liquor. I mean, we all have ideas. We'll get something figured out. 

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Our staff is small and so is our store

Back when Miranda and I were fixing up Rule of Pie, right after we purchased it, just as the thing was being born, we kept pretty busy. A lot of the work we put into the building was cosmetic, but we drug all kinds of stuff in and out at all hours of the day and night--made a lot of noise. Folks walking Main got used to us being there. Some would peak inside, some would come in--ask us what we were doing. I'd tell them I was doing next to nothing, namely because it was true. Miranda was spearheading pretty much everything and aside from the time I said all of the bad words I knew after almost falling through the building's flat panel awning while trying to hang our sign, no one seemed to mind us. 

There was this one guy though. A guy who walked into the shop and right up to me as I was in the middle of not changing a light fixture very well. Not one for fancy introductions, he demanded to know what kind of soup I was serving at the cafe I was opening because I was opening a cafe (because he had read it on Facebook) and, thank God, a cafe was exactly the kind of thing the town needed.  So this was an important question. He was glad to meet me, but before that it was important for me to know that I needed to serve different kinds of soup with our sandwiches--split pea among them. Split Pea and Ham. After that, a failed joke about the five points of Calvinism, double predestination, and apropos of nothing, he asked:
 
Do you know what kind of coffee is the best coffee? 

Nope, I said. 

It's Folgers, he said. Folgers Coffee is my favorite coffee. You have to serve some of that here.

I explained that  weren't going to serve sandwiches nor soup because were weren't opening  a cafe. I also explained that we weren't going to serve Folgers because it sucked. Things took a turn for the worse there because he kept projecting his predilections. He wasn't angry because he couldn't understand what I was saying. He understood. He was angry because I wasn't saying what he wanted me to say, you know. If Folgers is the best part of your waking up, go back to sleep. Just try again, man.

I don't think most people are like that guy and if given then chance I don't think they'll demand subjugation to the Order Cheap Coffee and the High Priest of Split Pea.  I actually think most people are reasonable, if not altogether pragmatic. Either that, or we've had really, really good luck with customers. Everyone is so patient with us. 

See, we make a certain number of pies for pre-order purposes, and a certain number of pies for walk-in purposes every week. X = pre-order pies, Y = walk-in pies, X + Y = Z. 

Z never changes. Even if demand increases there's only a certain number of pies we can make in a week, given that our store has a limited carrying capacity. Even if we had more hands to guide the dough, right now, we don't have the prerequisite space to store all of our ingredients. We don't have the ovens to bake them. Now, we have some exciting news to reveal in the near future, but  for now--it is what it is. Our staff is small and so is our store. And we're not going to bake on Monday to make due for a Friday Christmas. Monday pies can't be consumed on Friday--we won't encourage it anyway. I mean, do what you want with our stuff once you take it out of the store, but fresh food is the best food.

So we've shut down Christmas pre-orders for the season. We're maxed out. We're sorry. We'll grow and get better.  In the meantime, thanks for bearing with us.

And if you're ever going to walk straight into a hardware store and demand fried chicken--ride that bomb, Slim Pickens. At least demand that the fried chicken be good.

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Field Notes Explained

My name is Rick. I'm married to Miranda. Together, we run Rule of Pie Bakeshop--though distribution of duties isn't evenly split.  If you took Miranda out of the equation there would be no Rule of Pie. She and her mother engineer the backside of our store and make sure our food is consistent in its quality. That is, in my mind, all that really matters to the end user. The food. The food being good. But, when Miranda and I were seriously considering opening up a storefront, someone asked me what our brand-story was. If you're not familiar with that vernacular (brand-story) then thank your mom for raising you solid, your village for raising one less idiot. 

Our social media tends to take on a lot of our own personalities. I guess people can appreciate that. So, we're using this space as extension of our social media accounts. We'll write about the shop and our food, sure. But also about our varied misadventures in small business owning, our growing professional infrastructure,  and the many competing and sometimes irresponsible philosophies that augment our world here. When l I told Miranda I wanted to name the blog with an old James Baldwin allusion, a line about the American Dream and sunlit prisons, she asked how anyone else in the world found me employable. 

But about the guy who asked about the brand-story: I said, what if it's "The pie is good." He laughed. I asked him if Krapp's Last Tape was indeed Krapp's Last Tape--I mean what else is there left to really say? He looked at me as if I had a horn growing from my forehead. I asked if he ever found himself quoting Darren Rovell at retro cocktail parties. He asked if I was the one who had been drinking. I had not been drinking. 


 

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