After rocking and rolling across the world in search of a good pie, Neil Smith and Nikki Price gave up.
They’re going to make their own.
Smith and Price plan to open Proper Pie Company in Church Hill in the next few months. They’ll have plenty of variations on the main theme, such as family-size fruit pies and 5-inch handheld meat pies, a casual dining staple in Smith’s native New Zealand.
Getting “a pie in New Zealand is like getting pizza, or grabbing a burger here,” Price said.
Smith, a chef by trade, spent 10 years cooking for rock stars with a London-based catering company. The job took him around the world with acts such as Jay-Z, Neil Young, Green Day and Britney Spears.
Smith met Price, a VCU graduate, in 2006, when he came through Richmond during a Nine Inch Nails East Coast swing.
The two married in 2008, and Smith gave up the touring job and settled in Richmond last year.
Proper Pie is being financed in part by a $10,000 grant from Bon Secours, which Smith and Price won in October.
The pair signed a lease on 1,000-square-foot shop at 2505 East Broad St. last month, and moved in July 1. It Must Be Heaven Ice Cream and Desserts previously occupied the shop.
Price says the company needs about $50,000 to get started but has her fundraising goals set a little higher.
“My accountant said, ‘If you think you can get away with $50,000, I want you to raise $75,000,’” Price said.
Price and Smith have received some investments from family and friends and are setting up an online crowd-funding campaign at Kickstarter.com.
The shop will feature a fixed menu of pies with standard meats and fruits and a rotating seasonal menu.
Smith is working from many classic New Zealand recipes but said there is plenty of room to tinker.
“I’m making a lot of these up as we go,” he said.
Single-serving pies will cost between $5.50 and about $7.
Proper Pie will be open Wednesday through Sunday at first, but the team hopes to become a seven-day-a-week operation. Smith and Price also hope to start a Proper Pie food cart so they can take their food to fairs and festivals.
The first-time entrepreneurs are still on the business side of the shop, but Price isn’t worried at all about the product. She’s already picked out her favorite: a chicken and sweet potato variety common in New Zealand.
“I ate an award-winning pie in New Zealand, which was chicken and kumara, and couldn’t believe how delicious it was,” Price said. “Then I tried ours, and it was better.”