A Freshly Baked PR Campaign!
The moment ad agency executive turned artisan pie entrepreneur Holly Ricciardi told Peter Breslow that she wanted to open a pie bakery and boutique in Philadelphia, Breslow knew he was at the dawn of a culinary revolution. Holly’s goal was to offer a collection of seasonally sourced sweet and savory pies and Pie Fries: a childhood treat her mother created with leftover pie crust to satisfy Holly and her siblings while pies baked and cooled inside their Carlisle, PA home growing up. Breslow knew on the spot that he was sitting in front of one of Philadelphia’s future culinary superstars. This story had all the ingredients necessary to blow up. The over-baked cupcake trend had become tired and stale. Pie is a beloved classic comfort food that was undeniably due for a comeback. And Ricciardi’s lineage — growing up in the Pennsylvania Dutch countryside within a family of ultra-competitive bakers — made her an ideal candidate to lead the uprising.
“The most difficult time in the conception of Magpie was waiting several months from the time Holly hired me until she found her location at 1622 South Street,” stated Breslow. “I couldn’t wait to announce the concept and begin building buzz and anticipation for this brand! I knew the press and the public were going to flip for Magpie.” And flip they did. A “Birth Announcement” presenting the concept went out on a cold February morning in 2012, and by the afternoon just about every blog in Philadelphia had picked up the story. The proverbial cat was out of the bag. One press release produced an avalanche of awareness unlike anything the Philadelphia culinary community had seen before. Holly’s idea was instantly validated. Her instincts were immediately authenticated. Now we had six months to turn a vanilla box storefront on South Street into a “nanna chic” boutique and bakery while sustaining the press and public’s interest. Piece of cake, er, pie!
While Holly was leading the kitchen design and construction details we created a 2-minute video showcasing Ricciardi’s approach to Shoofly Pie — a beloved, yet misunderstood creation with rich history in Pennsylvania. We released the video to the press, which was shot in Ricciardi’s home kitchen, and created another massive wave of media coverage and anticipation for Philadelphia’s incubating pie dynasty. Magpie was becoming a household name and Ricciardi got to work planning her late summer opening menu.
By June, 2012 we announced Magpie’s opening details along with Ricciardi’s initial menu and a handful of “pie porn” photos. Once again, we were bombarded with media coverage. Philadelphia Wedding magazine ran a full-page photo and story proclaiming the pie trend’s arrival complete with suggestions for serving pie instead of cake to celebrate nuptials. Philadelphia was ready for pie. And Ricciardi was a few weeks away from serving it.
On September 1, 2012 Magpie Artisan Pie Bakery & Boutique opened for business and Philadelphia’s love affair with pie was ignited. James Beard Award Winning Philadelphia Inquirer restaurant critic Craig LaBan wrote on September 20, 2012: “I'll choose pie any day over cake (not to mention cupcakes), so it was with great anticipation that I waited for Magpie to finally open its adorable "nanna chic" cafe on South Street. If my first buttery bites of designer-turned-baker Holly Ricciardi's delights are any indication, we've embarked on a wonderful new trend.” We couldn’t have asked for a better endorsement by the most influential culinary journalist in the region. And the media hit parade didn’t end there. Within two months of opening, Magpie had amassed dozens of stories, mentions and photo-ops in magazines, newspapers and blogs as well as broadcast coverage on TV, radio and the Internet. Look for much more news coverage about Holly Ricciardi and Magpie in the future, as she and her brand have become instant culinary icons in a city obsessed with deliciousness.