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A Savory Australian Favorite Comes to Oregon

Sarah Curtis-Fawley and Chris Powell

The Australian meat pie is one of the most iconic comfort foods from the land Down Under and is often described as the continent’s unofficial national dish. So when husband and wife team Sarah Curtis-Fawley and Chris Powell moved to Portland from Chris’s native Australia, Sarah began making them for him as a reminder of home. This became the inspiration for a savory journey into a new business.

“I never considered owning my own business before when we returned to my native town of Philadelphia,” said Sarah.  “In 2008, I went to the Women’s Business Development Center in Philadelphia where I saw that this could be a possibility.”

That possibility became a reality for Sarah and Chris in 2009 when they launched Pacific Pie Company and began selling their pies at local farmer’s markets in Portland.  From these humble beginnings, Pacific Pie Company opened a small café in southeast Portland in 2010 where the word quickly spread about their delicious handmade pies.

The demand for Sarah and Chris’s pies was so great, that in 2011, the Aussie transplants moved Pacific Pie Company to a new location in southeast Portland as a full-service restaurant serving up their signature savory Australian meat and vegetable pies, pasties, and sausage rolls. Pacific Pie Company never forgot where it got its start at the farmer’s market and is committed to using locally-sourced ingredients directly from farmers for its culinary creations.

“Portland was becoming well known as a food town when we considered where to start our new business,” said Sarah.  “Using locally-sourced ingredients is very important to us and Portland was a good fit because of the accessibility to these resources.”

2013 was a pivotal year for Sarah and Chris, as they opened their second restaurant in the up-and-coming northwest Portland community.  Shortly after opening the second location, Sarah realized the daunting responsibilities of operating a business that just doubled in size and knew she could use a little help.

“It was like running two businesses,” said Sarah.  “I needed to learn how to run the business more efficiently and learned about the SBA Emerging Leaders Initiative through SCORE.”

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Emerging Leaders Initiative is a federal training initiative that specifically focuses on executives of businesses poised for growth in historically challenged communities. The initiative provides these executives with the organizational framework, resource network, and motivation required to build sustainable businesses and promote economic development within urban communities.

SCORE is an SBA resource partner and nonprofit organization dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground; and, grow and achieve their goals through education and mentorship.

All of Sarah and Chris’s hard work has paid off as they celebrated the three-year anniversary of their northwest Portland restaurant Dec. 2016.  Today, Pacific Pie Company employs 36 dedicated bakers and staff members who help to bring a taste of Australia to the Pacific Northwest.

Sarah was able to provide a unique and meaningful experience for fellow entrepreneurs as she hosted the 2016 Emerging Leaders class graduation ceremony at Pacific Pie Company’s northwest Portland location. 

According to Sarah and Chris, the journey has been challenging and rewarding.

“We’ve learned so much about ourselves and each other,” said Sarah.  “It’s been a very worthwhile experience.”

Company Name: 
Pacific Pie Company
Location: 
Portland, OR