by Barbara Sherf
Who doesn’t like plates of savory food and homemade pies made from fresh ingredients with no preservatives or food coloring and real butter? That’s what you will find at the Pie and Plate Café, 43 N. Main St. in Ambler, next door to the Forest & Main Brewing Company.
The brainchild behind the now three-year-old business is Kristen Wente, who was given an EZ Bake Oven as a little girl and got the baking bug. For those not familiar with the toy oven, the kit came with baking tins and ingredients you mixed with water, and it was powered by a light bulb cooking little cakes and cupcakes that you then decorated.
Kristen then hung out in the kitchen where her mother and grandmother baked their signature cookie trays for neighbors and friends for the holidays.
In 2009, nearing her 40th birthday her husband, Kurt, asked what she wanted for a gift? She asked for a high-end food truck in order to start Jimmies Cupcakes.
“I researched various food truck concepts, and cupcakes were starting to trend in other cities, so I did my research and went up to Amherst, Massachusetts, to buy the truck,” said Kristen, noting that it had all of the bells and whistles. “A lot of people wanted the truck, but the owner got our vision and sold it to us. The truck is currently on the market. It’s just too much to do both.”
Kurt and their two sons, Alden, 24, and Torrey, 25, pitched in.
“Kurt has always been a strong supporter of my crazy ideas,” said Kristen. “When we started, there were only two cupcake trucks in the city and suburbs, and we did a lot of the bigger events like weddings, bar mitzvahs, corporate gigs and even one of the first Philadelphia Night Markets. We called it Jimmies because in this area that’s what sprinkles are called, but very few people got it. They wound up calling Kurt ‘Jimmy,’ and he answered to it.”
Three years ago on Feb. 13, the couple put down culinary roots, opening Pie and Plate Café on a sunny corner with large windows and an inviting white exterior with blue trim that is within walking distance of the Ambler train station.
While they still make cupcakes and desserts, Kurt also now makes homemade soups, pot pies and quiches. Married for 28 years, the pair was set up by their moms, who worked together for many years. Empty nesters, the couple now reside in North Wales in a home Kurt’s grandfather built by hand.
Upon entering the 24-seat eatery, one cannot help but notice the aroma of locally roasted coffee and an array of blackboard specials. Kristen, who has a background in interior design, introduced a hip modern décor and local artwork that is for sale.
The “comfort food” pot pie called the Forest Avenue features a creamy mac and cheese filling covered with homemade flaky pie crust. Other offerings include the Belmont Avenue steak & ale and the Bethlehem Avenue chicken pot pies, as well as quiches and five sandwich choices. During Anniversary Week they will be featuring samplers consisting of three mini-pot pies and three slices of pie.
John Bieniek, an area artist who resides at Ambler Manor across the street, introduced me to Pie and Plate Café. “They have done a real nice job here,” he said. Of 124 reviews posted on yelp.com, the café has received an average 4.5 out of five-star rating like this one from Zack C. of Ambler: “A plethora of cakes, scones, pies and cupcakes adorn the counter and were quite tempting … I have never had Dijon on a breakfast sandwich, but it was fantastic!”
Besides word of mouth, Kristen is using mostly social media to get the word out and has nearly 1,500 fans on Facebook alone.
Pie and Plate Café, which is BYOB, can be reached at 267-468-7171 or pieandplate.com
Flourtown foodie Barbara Sherf captures the stories of businesses and individuals. She can be reached at CommunicationsPro.com or CaptureLifeStories@gmail.com