From the Archives — Pie in the Sky

by Deborah Griffin Scanlon

“Stock up on popovers! Demolition is starting soon!”

Social media was abuzz with Pie in the Sky’s rebuilding this winter as the bakery and café, in operation on Water Street since 1982, closed mid-December. The old building was razed and replaced, and re-opened mid-April, as promised by owner Erik Gura, who has owned the business since 2002.

The new building is essentially the same footprint, maintaining the size and structure of the old restaurant and outdoor bar. What is new, Mr. Gura said, is that there is more than double the amount of storage and work space available to employees with the addition of a basement. There is also a new public bathroom in front of the building.

An addition to the building is a flat rooftop lined with wooden railings. There is no customer access to the roof, which is used for a new generator and an afterburner. The afterburner is separately housed, Mr. Gura said, and is used to remove the smoke and smells emitted by the coffee roaster on the first floor.

Project architect was William Roslansky.

A brick floor and a heated granite pathway were added to help melt snow and ice.

What hasn’t changed is the furniture, much of it built by former Falmouth resident Ron Smith for previous owners Manny Dias and Denise Dias, and the original signs.

The idea for Pie in the Sky came when the Diases were on their honeymoon in Europe and were impressed by the great coffee shops and bakeries there. Mr. Dias’s parents had owned Jean’s Bakery in Teaticket for years.

They hadn’t found a good site for a cafe until one day when they went to visit a friend at the kite shop that artist Joan Kanwisher had at the old EG&G building.

Originally the site of Howes Market, by the early 1960s the building and the “flatiron” building behind it that housed Wilhelm’s Hardware had been demolished. A modern structure on a concrete slab had been built and a restaurant, The Promenade, was opened.

After several years, the restaurant was for sale and the company EG&G, which had bought Geodyne, a WHOI spinoff company, purchased it. Paul Ferris Smith of Woods Hole worked there until EG&G decided to move their corporate headquarters to Wellesley.

Joan Kanwisher opened a kite shop and sold her prints of local scenes for a year. The following year, the Diases came into the shop. For a year they leased it and sold Ms. Kanwisher’s prints. Then in 1983 they bought the building from EG&G. It was an office with two rooms with space for two tables only, and no windows in the back, Mr. Dias remembers. The entrance was off a deck to the right. They changed the entrance to its current location, added the window between the kitchen and the customer area, as well as a window overlooking the Steamship Authority. They also enclosed the deck to add more seating along with the renovations.

Howes Market, originally on the site of the Pie In The Sky. Courtesy WHHM Archives, Florence Howes Gordon Collection.

There was a parking area in the front, which Mr. Dias modified to allow two cars facing the bank and one car straight in.

They were trying to think of names for the shop and not getting anywhere until one day Mr. Dias had the radio blasting the Jimmy Cliff song, “The Harder They Come.”
“Well they tell me of a pie up in the sky…”

“It was the perfect name,” Mr. Dias said, and it still remains.

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