Auto-pie-lot contains data from previous years and how much sales are up year-over-year. The stores report any waste daily as well as what reason there might be for that, such as rain. Weather forecasts are also considered in the open-source document.
The “pie-culator” within Auto-pie-lot crunches all of that into daily quotas, and Wilkes says it’s quite accurate.
The algorithm tells them how much pie to deliver to the stores each day before the vans — Pie-lennium Falcon, Starship Enter-pies and Pie-metheus — head out.
“If we make a little bit too much, we freeze it and put it into ice cream,” Wilkes says.
Emporium Pies recently invested in equipment that eliminates repetitive tasks that are hard on the body.
Swiss machinery rolls out the dough and cuts it, tasks workers used to do by hand.
“But we still make the dough by hand and crimp every single pie with our fingers,” she says.
Portion fillers mean employees no longer have to scoop filling into each shell, a repetitive motion that could cause injury over time.
Those innovations also make the pies more consistent, Wilkes says.
Pie fillings are still cooked manually on a stovetop, and everything is done in batches of 25 pies, a number that’s compatible with the Auto-pie-lot algorithm.
The pies are baked in two rotating industrial rack ovens that cost about $65,000. Workers can roll the racks into the ovens and close the doors without stooping or reaching.
“The story isn’t that Megan and Mary built a pie shop,” Wilkes says. “It’s that we’ve always had people who are incredible and are able to help us with it.”
Pie Palace employees start out as bakers-in-training until they’re experienced enough to become bakers, which comes with a raise, and then shift leaders. They can work up the ranks, and the pay scale, at their own pace.
A star chart tracks who’s been trained at which tasks and how well they know them.
Most current employees are shift leaders, meaning they are capable of running the kitchen day-to-day, Wilkes says.
“It takes a long time to learn everything,” she says. “Our menu changes every few months, so it’s like a year to get fully trained up.”