In 2016, Eleanor Taylor had just moved back to Springfield, Missouri, after raking in knowledge while working at bakeries in New York City. She was in need of a commercial kitchen to begin her own business, Prairie Pie. Simultaneously, Vito Palmietto was searching for a baker or chef to share the commercial kitchen of his Italian restaurant and pizzeria.
Palmietto's wife, Margaret, introduced the two. Cut to three years later, and Palmietto and Taylor have coexisted and collaborated in the kitchen, formed a business mentorship and hosted joint pop ups.
"I didn't want to rent the kitchen straight out to just anybody," he says. "I looked at it as a true partnership. I think we’ve worked well with each other and I think in my opinion, we’ve kind of gotten to the point where now our businesses are thriving."
She launched the Springfield pie company at just 22.
Palmietto has been working in the culinary field for decades and learned how to perfect his pizza recipe under the guidance of Tony Gemignani, a 13-time World Pizza Champion. Now, he has decided to place his business's focus on home cooking classes, catering, pizza pop ups and Italian meal kits, making room for Taylor to get creative with the restaurant's former dining space.
"It’s time to kind of step back and let Eleanor run with the ball," he says. "I’ll be the coach in the background, and I'll be there for her when she needs me. But, we will still work together on concepts. She is going to become more of the front person and I’m going to become more of the [behind-the-scenes] guy."
As her business has continued to expand with wholesale accounts on top of consistent weekly individual orders, Taylor has realized the time is coming to offer her own storefront and sit-down pie shop.
"It's sort of a role reversal," Taylor says. "I’ll be taking over the front dining area for a bakery space, but I very much want to take that slow. I have no plans to open a dining room until at least the end of the year because this is our busy season."
Tart blackberries add wonderful flavor, color and texture to a juicy peach pie.
For now, Taylor is using the dining area to coordinate pie order pickups and host frequent weekend pop ups until Prairie Pie officially opens to the public in early 2021. She is working on interior plans with Pickwick House, the same company that designed The Royal Music Hall and Team Taco.
Her next pop up is slated for this Sat., Sept. 19, and will feature her newest product: savory pot pies. Guests can choose from three flavors including chicken, veggie, and beef and mushroom pot pie and enjoy them to-go.
Single-serving pot pies, slices of sweet pies, mashed potatoes and beverages by The Coffee Ethic and Spring Branch Kombucha will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Prairie Pie is also accepting pre-orders for both pot pies and sweet pies at prairiepie.com/order.
Prairie Pie, 417.459.8222, prairiepie.com
Vito’s Kitchen, 307 South Jefferson Ave., Springfield, Missouri, 417.569.7555, vitoskitchen.net