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August 10, 2013

Area shop keeps food fresh, local

By Cathy B. Koplen Contributing Writer
The Daily Star

---- — Pie in the Sky, a produce, ice cream and variety store, beckons visitors along Route 7 with its tall red silo, barn door entrance, summer deck with umbrella tables and playground. 

The store, which began as a vegetable stand, has changed over the years to include homemade Polar Bear brand ice cream as well as a variety of artisan cheeses and soaps, used books and movies, crockery, china, jewelry and seasonal Christmas trees and wreaths.

“As things changed, we rode with the tide and changed,” said Pie in the Sky co-owner Janet Powers. “When we first built this building, it was full of produce. But we found that we can’t compete with the grocery stores’ prices. They sell produce from all over for about what we pay the local farmers.

“But what we have is locally grown, in-season produce that we know is freshly harvested.”

Pie in the Sky is called an icon by many residents. Located on Route 7 in the town of Otego, many generations have relied upon the store’s freshly grown produce to enhance a meal.

“I have been getting produce from Pie in the Sky for years, I remember it when it was over at Cathedral Farms,” said Darlene Abajian of Butternuts. “I used to garden, and I know this produce is as fresh and as local as it gets.”

Powers said she has seen several generations of families come through the store.

“In a couple of weeks, we are going to the wedding of a girl who used to work here,” Powers said. “And my daughter babysits the kids of people who worked for us when they were kids. We are a family place.”

Powers and her husband, Jamie Potter, co-own the store. They grow much of the produce they sell on the organic farm behind the store. Other produce comes from local farms picked within a day or two of purchase.

“The peaches are a little late this year,” Powers said. “When they come in they are wonderful. They should be ready in a week or two.”

Pie in the Sky began selling Polar Bear brand ice cream 15 years ago, when Ed Shultis decided to sell his ice cream franchise.

“He came in here and asked us if we wanted to buy it,” Powers said. “We really couldn’t afford it at the time, but he made it work for us. He saw our place and thought it would be a good fit – and it is.”

Polar Bear brand ice cream is made on location using special equipment. There are many flavors available as well as sorbets and gluten-free choices.

“The secret is in the machines,” Powers said. “It doesn’t pump a lot of air into the mix, so it comes out creamier.”

Dee Singer and Len Teper have a regular Friday date at Pie in the Sky. They were in the ice cream shop for an early treat Wednesday.

“We have been coming here for many years,” Singer said. “We come in every Friday without fail. We are here today to pick up some ice cream because we are having guests. Whenever we come, we always have to get a scoop to eat.”

In the fall and early winter, Pie in the Sky sells pumpkins. As Christmas nears, they sell Christmas trees wreaths.

“Sometimes we see people once a year at Christmas when they get their trees,” Powers said.

Pie in the Sky is a seasonal shop. The store close after the Christmas trees are gone and opens again in the early spring, when the maple trees have been tapped and the Pie in the Sky organic maple syrup is ready to drip over pancakes.