Meet Bill Hart, the owner and pie genius behind Baked From the Hart in Seattle’s Mount Baker neighborhood. Get to know the Pie Guy himself in a heartfelt (or should we say Hart-felt) Q&A with Intentionalist.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Q: What’s something your customers may not know about you or your business?
A: I went through some pretty hard times to get here. In short, at one time I was homeless. That’s a whole different story, believe me. Sometimes we look at people that are in certain places. You see them a lot because they’re in a certain position, but a lot of the time, the public doesn’t know where they’ve been. And in most cases — especially for people of color — it wasn’t like they were born with a silver spoon. And that’s how it was in my case. It gives me a great sense of humility. And it gives me a great sense of understanding what I have is a gift. And it puts me in a position to want to freely give that gift every day. The truth of it is, it’s giving a part of me. Every day.
Q: What do you love about the community your business is in and why?
A: A lot of the people who come through here have a big sense of appreciation. The thing I hear the most is, “We’re glad you’re here.” The different times we’re in — surviving this and keeping my doors open — a lot of times you have to be willing to look beyond the words. And when I look beyond, what I see is when my doors are open, and I’m here, and I’m a survivor, people mirror that in their own lives. So, you’re giving them hope. You’re giving them possibilities. You’re giving them “I can do this.” You never know what people are going through in their lives, so when they see somebody who is succeeding, they — like myself who gets up and does this every single solitary day — believe it in themselves. That there is something if you do it every day. And then they start to realize, little by little, that’s why every day is a gift.
Q: What’s your favorite local business to #SpendLikeItMatters?
A: Seattle Fish Guys off 23 and Jackson. They’re very good people. They work very hard, and they’re going through the same thing I’m going through — all small businesses are going through. And we just about moved into our businesses at the same time. So, we’ve both been around the same place at the same time. When I go and see them every week, it gives me a sense of inspiration because I know they’ve had to make changes and had to transition just like myself. They didn’t throw up their hands and close their doors. So I partner with them easily.
Q: Did you eat a sweet bean pie somewhere else before you first tried making it yourself?
A: That’s the best question you’ve asked. I was 7 years old when I tried my first bean pie. It was this family from Spokane who came to our door one evening, and the woman had a red bean pie in her hands. And I asked my mother if she’d make it because she baked all the time, and I was in the kitchen with her all the time. Mom said, “I ain’t making no bean pie.” My mother wasn’t from the South like a lot of the women in the neighborhood. She was from Everett. My mother made blackberry cobbler, apple cobbler, peach cobbler — she made all that good stuff. But Mama wasn’t going to make bean pie. So, I simply told myself the only way I’m going to get one is I’m going to make it one day. And when I turned 16, I still had it on my mind. I got the basic recipe from [the family’s] sister, and I went with that recipe and it came out perfect the first time.