What draws people to a restaurant? Looks? Taste? History? When it comes to a restaurant like PieLab, all three of those categories are not only sufficiently met, but go beyond expectations. Other reviews found on the internet glow with praise, so it’s not surprising that mine will be doing the same thing.
My experience began with the hour-long trip from Tuscaloosa to Greensboro, where PieLab is located. The highway between the two cities was lined with cozy homes and trees that had just begun to change colors, despite it being late October. I drove over rolling hills while the sun shone brightly overhead. When I pulled into the small downtown area of the city, it was quiet, though cars filled the parking spaces on the street and a few people could be seen roaming the sidewalks, going about their business.
Looking at the exterior, you notice that it is a crisp, clean white, proudly displaying the restaurant’s name in a bold, black font. It makes a large statement for the small town that PieLab is located in. Windows allow you to peer inside before you go in, and inside you can see employees behind the open kitchen’s counter, working on food orders with a sense of diligence, but not one of urgency. It’s simple and sweet to watch from the outside, but even the outside of the restaurant invites you to come inside. Written on the window panes on both sides of the door is this humble phrase “Pie & Conversation, Optimism & Inspiration.” But then the restaurant takes it one step further on their invitation for you, and tells you a little bit about their story, right on their front door. The idea began on a napkin by a group that calls themselves “Project M” somewhere in Belfast, Maine. Then it became a pop-up shop in Greensboro, Alabama turned restaurant, job-training center, and community space, all within the confines of an abandoned pool hall. The restaurant’s mission is the final few sentences on the door. They read, “PieLab strives to be an open and inclusive environment where all voices of the community can be heard. So welcome. Welcome to our pie shop, our community and our story.” It’s a powerful welcome, and that’s just from standing on the outside. Continue reading →