LONG BEACH — Something sweet is happening At Tinker Towne Mall in Long Beach.
Behind a broad glass window in a building with pink shingles, Marci Bennett is mixing flour, rolling dough and baking pies.
“I just want to bake and make people happy. Pie makes everyone happy,” said Bennett, owner of Simpli Edibles and affectionately known as “The Pie Lady.”
Bennett produces more than three-dozen different kinds of pies, cinnamon rolls and buns, including sugar-free and gluten-free options. The fruit pies feature Washington-grown seasonal fruit and berries, including locally grown Cranguyma Farm cranberries and blueberries. The Dutch caramel apple and cranberry-peach are among the most popular pies.
The business is anticipating an official opening in February at their location at 811 Pacific Ave. S. #14 in Tinker Towne Mall.
Formerly of Vancouver, Bennett has been baking pies “all her life,” but began selling on the Long Beach Peninsula six years ago.
“I was a commercial cook for 35 years,” she said. “I started in the kitchen when I was 15.”
Shoulder surgery eventually forced her to slow down.
“I had shoulder surgery and couldn’t cook any longer in a commercial environment,” she said. She then moved to the coast and found a slower lifestyle, but still desired to return to her culinary roots.
“I have to cook for people. It’s like breathing,” Bennett said.
Bennett began to search for a bigger space after running the business from her residential kitchen in Ilwaco for the past few years. She found a sweet spot in November during a date at Neptune Theater with her husband, when they noticed a space was available at the recently renovated Tinker Towne Mall.
“I asked (owner Kaarina Stotts) if I could put a hole in the roof for the hood system and she said ‘why not?’” Bennett said.
On Jan. 18, a crew from Twin City Service Company finished installing the kitchen hood, part of a system that will allow Bennett to dramatically expand production.
“At home I could do six to nine pies. But here we’ll be able to cook 40 pies at once. My cooking times will go down a lot. I can make as much as I need,” Bennett said.
Having more space to produce, sell and distribute more baked goods has been exciting, too, but there’s one thing she’s missed most.
“I just can’t wait until I’m open and can start seeing all my customers,” she said.