Poorhouse Pies Founders Sell Their Underhill Bakery | Food News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Poorhouse Pies Founders Sell Their Underhill Bakery


Published December 7, 2021 at 12:38 p.m.

Suzanne Tomlinson, new owner of Poorhouse Pies - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Suzanne Tomlinson, new owner of Poorhouse Pies
Jamie and Paula Eisenberg have sold Poorhouse Pies to Suzanne Tomlinson. She will expand and move the Underhill business from the Eisenbergs' backyard to a new bakery space under construction around the corner at 419 Vermont Route 15.

Tomlinson said that she expects to open around the first of the new year. But she and her contractor (who happens to be her husband) are working hard to get up and running the week before Christmas.

The Eisenbergs, both longtime area culinary professionals, started their home-based bakery in 2009 with a self-serve pie shed in their Underhill backyard. The couple offered freshly fried doughnuts on Sundays in the early years.

Although the operation stayed resolutely small, the baker-owners built a devoted following for their pies due in part to being featured twice on PBS television shows.
Jamie and Paula Eisenberg - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Jamie and Paula Eisenberg
To Poorhouse Pies' established roster of pies ranging from apple to chocolate cream, Tomlinson will add gluten-free and vegan options as well as savory pies, such as chicken pot pie and shepherd's pie. She will also bring back the weekly doughnuts.

Both former and current owners described the sale as fortuitous. "We've been wanting to get out for a few years," Jamie Eisenberg said. "COVID changed a lot. Our sales were higher than ever." They declined to disclose the purchase price.

Paula will continue to work for Tomlinson on a part-time basis and Jamie will help with the transition.

Tomlinson, who grew up in Vermont, said she first started working in restaurants when she was 12 at the Colatina Exit in Bradford. Most recently, she served and managed front of house at Jericho Café and Tavern for seven years.

Also an Underhill resident, Tomlinson has been friends with the Eisenbergs for years and Jamie had counseled her on steps to take to start her own food business. Tomlinson wrote a business plan with the support of Mercy Connections Women's Small Business Program and was working with a Vermont Small Business Development Center restaurant and food business advisor.

"Suzanne said she was thinking about buying the building around the corner to start a catering company and I joked, 'Why don't you buy Poorhouse Pies?'" Jamie recalled.

"I never considered that because I considered Jamie and Paula and Poorhouse Pies as one thing," Tomlinson said. She signed on for three months to be "their little pie intern" to learn the ropes, she said, and realized it was a perfect fit.

Tomlinson's goal is to expand volume and variety but keep the focus on pies and weekly doughnuts. The look and feel of the new pie shop will be rustic but fitted with commercial bakery equipment.

"We want to capture the pie shed magic," Tomlinson said, "but there will be way more pie."