Pie makers see the Lake Region as their ‘slice’ of heaven for new business

Louise Oleson Journal Managing Editor
Malcom and Theresa Oatman are the Pro-PIE-etors of Lake of the Woods Pie Company which is located in a portion of the former Pugsley Sandwich factory along Highway 57 south. They pose here with their unique apple coring, peeling and slicing machine.

If you’ve had the opportunity to try one of the pies featured by Lake of the Woods Pie Company you know how good they are, especially how flaky the crust is.

Their pies have been sold at Crazy Daze in downtown Devils Lake. Miniature cups bearing their signature Dutch Apple pie were served at the Holiday Showcase on Nov. 16 in the Memorial Building. By now the word is out about the quality of their product and you can tell, according to Theresa Oatman, the orders have been rolling in, especially during the holidays.

Until recently the couple lived in Baudette, Minn., where they took their pies to farmers markets in Grand Forks and craft fairs around the region.

With the popularity of their product on the rise, they had to make a decision about where they would headquarter their operation if they were going to do this full-time as an occupation.

What they needed was a place to make their pies that could one day also offer retail space for them to sell their product as the business grows. So they sold their home and with their three daughters Malcom and Theresa Oatman moved first to Warroad, Minn. and made their pies in the former Warroad School until it was no longer available to rent.

Then they set their sights on Devils Lake, North Dakota. Here they found space available in the former Pugley’s Sandwich factory, also presently occupied by Flatlander’s Pizza and Submarines.

That was almost a year ago and the Oatmans are dreaming big dreams for their operation including teaming up with Flatlander’s to offer boxed lunches for sale - a sub, chips and a piece of pie, neatly packaged in a box - to go, among other items, like maybe small personal pies, too. They aren’t quite ready for that, yet, but it may be down the line for them as they work on getting retail space prepared in the former office portion of the factory.

For the time being they are doing farmers markets and craft shows around the region and the Pride of Dakota shows. Each time they bring their pies, they sell out, even though the cost is $15 to $18.95 per pie.

“We weren’t sure anyone would pay that much for a pie, but we have found out that because each pie is hand-made and has the consistent quality our customers have come to expect of us, that asking that much wasn’t unrealistic,” Theresa said.

In fact they were finding wherever they went with their pies they were selling out and customers were asking for more.

The product

They offer two kinds - baked or frozen, ready to be baked at home.

All pies are nine-inch deep dish pies in a sturdy metal tin - not just the flimsy, foil some use.

Their flavors include their most popular - Dutch apple with crumb topping, caramel apple pie with a double crust (top and bottom) and apple berry pies, which include raspberry, blueberry and blackberries with a crumb top.

They also have pecan, blueberry,  strawberry ruhbarb, peach and cherry pie, plus a seasonal pumpkin pie.

They’re looking for a source for June berries so they can offer a June berry pie, too.

For the time being they take orders via telephone or e-mail 218- 452-0204 (his) or 218-452-0012 (hers) and lowpie@wiktel.com

The Oatmans

Malcom grew up in various locations in an Air Force family. They lived in Texas, Virginia, Japan, Colorado Springs, Colorado and Great Falls, Montana, to name a few.

When he was of age he enlisted in the Navy.

It was while serving in the Navy that he met Theresa, who was also in the Navy. They met at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and the rest is history.

Today they have three daughters - aged 21, 17 and 15 - who also help in the pie making process. This is truly a family business.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to try one of their pies, you can find them featured for sale by the piece at The Ranch Steakhouse in Devils Lake, at Harriman’s in Maddock and at Nick’s Garage in New Rockford.