Al & Ry's Meat Pies
POCKET SUCCESS: Al & Ry’s Meat Pies is still a fledgling business, but it’s proving to be ‘full-filling’ for the east-side couple behind it
photographs by paul hitz
Alison Vertregt is descended from a family of great cooks, but it was only recently when she realized that some of that talent had been passed down to her.
It began innocently enough one evening last February, when the 32-year-old elementary schoolteacher pulled out her grandfather’s recipe for traditional Lebanese meat pies and made a batch of them.
It’s a time-consuming process, starting with the dough that must rise twice before being rolled out to form the triangular pies. When she served them to her 35-year-old boyfriend, now fiancé, Ryan Locke, he was impressed. Since he enjoys cooking too, the couple began making the pies together. “She makes the dough; I fill,” Locke says. After that first batch, they began experimenting with fillings beyond the traditional beef, parsley, and onion.
They stuffed the pies with the ingredients for chicken enchiladas — which has turned out to be the most popular of all — in addition to a Reuben meat pie, sausage and peppers, and sliders. A vegetarian version is made with roasted vegetables.
“They turned out so good, we decided, ‘Why don’t we try selling these things?’ ” says Locke. So he took some of them to work at Ye Olde Tap Room on the far east side of Detroit where he’s a manager. They were snapped up by employees and customers alike for $2 apiece, or $15 a dozen.
Word of mouth and a Facebook page spread the news, and by the time June rolled around, “Al and Ry” were selling pies by the hundreds. On one frantic day, they filled orders for 27 dozen — and Al & Ry’s Meat Pies was on its way.
They got a catering license and began making the pies at a friend’s bakery in Harrison Township, delivering them themselves or having customers pick them up at their St. Clair Shores home.
“They are pockets of joy,” says customer Katie Lamberti, who ordered four dozen for her son’s high-school graduation party and watched them disappear while conventional cold cuts were ignored.
Dan and Debra McGuire had a similar experience at their son’s graduation party. “It was the most popular thing at the party,” says Dan, who had learned about the edibles when he stopped by Ye Old Tap Room.
Al & Ry delivered an order for 150 pies to a tailgate party when the Detroit Lions appeared on Monday Night Football on Oct. 10.
They’re still in the process of obtaining further licensing so they can expand beyond the east side and get the pies into grocery stores. They hope to get their own space soon, but things have happened so quickly, they don’t even have a website yet — just an email address, email@example.com, and a hotline, 313-701-0598.