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Banking on pie in Newton Centre

'When you mention pie, you have to smile.' 'When you mention pie, you have to smile.'

Residents have long said they wanted a full-service bakery, bookstore, and produce market to open in Newton Centre, and now at least part of their wish will come true.

Newton native Ellen Kaplansky plans to open a bakery on Beacon Street in a former jewelry store, calling it simply, Pie, Bakery + Cafe.

Everybody loves pie, the 51-year-old entrepreneur said.

"When you mention pie, you have to smile," Kaplansky said. "They're like firemen - how can you not love a fireman?"

There's already a popular bakery in Newton Centre - Big Sky Bakery and Cafe, just a few blocks away on Union Street - but it mostly serves bread. Kaplansky hopes to draw a different business by offering light meals, pies to go, and an unusual theme featuring pies from around the world.

"This is an example of the kind of business that Newton's villages are trying to attract back," said Alderwoman Victoria Danberg, who lives nearby. "For years, we've been hoping to bring a bakery back to the center."

Danberg, who recently proposed a trans-fat ban in Newton, said she was excited at the prospect. Kaplansky has said she will cook without trans fats.

Lisa Gordon, a resident and president of the Newton Centre Neighborhood Association, said she has long wanted to see a bakery in her part of town. She was jealous when a bakery cafe, Bread & Chocolate, opened a couple years ago in Newtonville.

"To me, bakeries are the heart and soul of a real city village," she said. "It's really overdue."

Kaplansky said there will be seating for 24 and a "fun groove" to the place. The kitchen will be open and lighted theatrically to allow customers to watch executive pastry chef Paige Retus at work. While traditional standbys like apple, blueberry, and banana cream pie will be menu staples, there will also be meat and shepherd's pies, knishes, empanadas, spanikopita, and other savory pastries from around the world.

Family-owned Lederman's bakery operated on Centre Street for decades. But even as the city grew and prospered, it closed. A high-end boutique and companion restaurant known as Pava took its place. Neighbors have expressed a desire to see amenities that serve local residents and make the area more walkable.

The city has convened a task force to look at ways it can improve the center and make it more inviting and friendlier to pedestrians and businesses.

Danberg, who is a member of the task force, said more than 24,000 cars pass the corner of Beacon and Centre streets in Newton Centre daily, creating a traffic nightmare.

Kaplansky spotted the empty storefront and its "For Rent" sign while sitting in traffic on Beacon Street. Until then, she had been working with a broker to open a bakery in Brookline. She hopes to open in Newton Centre in early December.

Megan Woolhouse can be reached at

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