A pot pie from Great Lakes Pot Pie.
A pot pie from Great Lakes Pot Pie.

Great Lakes Pot Pie, which opened last April during the pandemic, serves up fresh pot pies in a variety of flavors.

Growing up, Jannie Teitelbaum had a love for chicken pot pies. Now, she’s transformed one of her favorite childhood foods into a successful business headquartered in Clawson.

Great Lakes Pot Pie, which opened last April during the pandemic, serves up fresh pot pies in a variety of flavors. From classic chicken to meatball, each handmade pie is crafted with locally sourced ingredients. The pies even come in gluten-free or vegan versions, and as bitesize pie chips that range from savory to sweet. There’s also chocolate pecan pie up for grabs.

Jannie Teitelbaum holds one of her signature pies.
Jannie Teitelbaum holds one of her signature pies. Courtesy of Great Lakes Pot Pie

It was a business idea that was born by accident. Teitelbaum, who is originally from New York and previously lived in Virginia before moving to Bloomfield Hills in 2009, was part of a women’s group where each member would bring a signature dish. For the Jewish entrepreneur, who has also previously launched an art business, she decided to bake a pie to share with the group.

“I baked a pie one night and somebody said, ‘This is really good!’” Teitelbaum, 60, recalls. “So, she ordered one and said, ‘Are you doing it as a business?’ And I said, ‘I guess I am.’”

The original recipe was one that Teitelbaum spent six months perfecting. “I spent a lot of time reading tons and tons of recipes,” she recalls. She considered seasonings, the amount of chicken broth, levels of butter and many other processes that go into baking a perfect pot pie. Most importantly, though, aside from flavor, was that the pies needed to hold their shape.

“When you eat a small personal-sized pie, you dig into it with a spoon or fork,” Teitelbaum said. “When you have a big pie, you cut a slice, so you have to make sure that it’s not too liquidy or the whole thing will implode.”

After trial-and-error, Teitelbaum finally settled on a winning recipe in September 2015. She knew it was a hit when her then-17-year-old son Steven, who served as pie taste-tester, exclaimed that it was the one. The Teitelbaum family began selling the pot pies at Royal Oak Farmers Market, where they started to see many people lining up to purchase their pies each weekend.

For Teitelbaum, who was considering retiring, she originally decided to take it easy and only make a handful of pies throughout the week. Yet, seeing the success and interest her pies rolled in inspired her to take the idea one step further. Rather than baking out of a commercial kitchen at a church, where she previously made her pies, she decided to seek out her own retail space.

Growing in Clawson

About two years ago, she found Great Lakes Pot Pie’s current location in Clawson and worked to secure the lease over the course of a year. Finally, by the time the pandemic hit, she was ready to open her business, named after her love for all things local. While many restaurant businesses struggled throughout this time, Teitelbaum found an unexpected silver lining: People were seeking out frozen foods, and it turned out pot pies were both easy to freeze and heat up.

“We did really well,” she remembers. “Each week we got busier and busier.” Teitelbaum was able to build the business at her own pace, thanks to the pandemic slowing down foot traffic and the restaurant industry in general. She wouldn’t have had it any other way, though, because it allowed her space and time to figure out exactly how her pot pie business would look.

Great Lakes Pie Co in Clawson

Now, Great Lakes Pot Pie has 12 employees. They’re continuing to grow, with both of Teitelbaum’s sons, Matthew and Steven, helping her run the operation. They’ve even expanded to begin offering local delivery and shipping nationwide. Teitelbaum also took over the lease next door to the pie shop, which she plans to turn into a production space where passersby can watch pies being made through the glass windows.

Eventually, she’d like to serve up her favorite childhood dish at more than one location. “I want the pies to be in grocery stores, maybe some specialty stores,” Teitelbaum says.

In the meantime, though, she’ll continue pouring her love into each pie that goes out the Clawson door.

“I taste every single batch of chicken that gets made,” she continues. “I have to get that memory when I taste it that reminds me why I love chicken pot pie so much. It’s really important, and I think people can tell when they eat our pie, because it’s the right flavor.”

Order pot pies at greatlakespotpies.com.