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Pies With A Side Of History

As I walked into Peasant Pies Cafe, I inhaled the delicious aroma of fresh baked dough. Located on Irving St and 12th Ave, Peasant Pies has been serving savory handheld pies since 1993. I met with owner and co - founder, Ali Keshavarz, who told me a little about where his idea for the business came from. He had been working in the restaurant business since he was in college and in the early 1990s, Ali and his business partner, Gerard Buulong, ran a jazz club restaurant. However, they quickly realized they wanted to go a different direction.

“I wanted to get away from that traditional food format and go more towards the concept of fast casual. My idea was homemade food that was reachable price wise and that people could easily take home.” Ali explains.

He explains that Gerard had shared with him the origin of the peasant pie. In the 1930s and 1940s, Italians fishermen hoping to escape the reign of Mussolini immigrated to a village on the south-east coast of France, Sete, bringing with them their seafood pie recipe. These pies were made with fish and some tomato sauce; it was called a Tielle. “This is why it is called peasant pies. It’s very simple and primal because you eat the pie with your hands.” Ali explains.

After two successful years in Noe Valley, Peasant Pies Café opened their second store in San Francisco’s Inner Sunset in 1995. After that, Peasant Pies started delivering their pies to gourmet markets in San Francisco like Whole Foods Market and Rainbow Groceries. “I’ve been going to Rainbow since 1995; we’re a close knit family.” shares Ali. Peasant Pies also has a vast catering business that occupied the majority of their business in pre-covid times.

Unfortunately, Peasant Pies have had to say a temporary goodbye to that catering service which constituted 35% of their business. Facing this loss, Ali has worked hard to find other outlets for profit. Back in March, he spent 2-3 months staying up late at night to create an accessible website where people could order pies online. Each box of pies comes with heating instructions and has been freshly baked that day.

Support Peasant Pies Cafe by buying some delicious pies online or in person!

-Valentine Batra

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