Marie Callender's provides pies for the holidays

Employees bring pastries to Medford from Redding, Calif., after their bakery burned down
Marie Callender's Restaurant General Manager James McKeane, right, assists Medford resident Karen Rohreich and her grandson Joey with their pie order while restaurant Assistant Manager Robert Baxter watches. Marie Callender’s Restaurant had set up a tent in the Applebee’s parking lot to fulfill orders and sell pies for the holiday season. McKeane said the sale was as much about maintaining tradition as it was trying to make a profit.

A fire that destroyed the Marie Callender's on Biddle Road last week didn't deter its employees from baking a fresh set of pies for the holidays.

Less than a block from the burned out restaurant, employees set up a white tent next to Applebee's on Sunday and rapidly sold out of razzleberry, one of the most popular pies.

How you can help

A fundraiser today at Applebee's restaurants in Medford and Grants Pass will benefit employees displaced by the Marie Callender's fire. From 11 a.m. to closing, 15 percent of proceeds at the restaurants will go to the Marie Callender's employees. A donation box will also be set up at the Medford location at 1388 Biddle Road.

There was plenty of pumpkin, apple and double lemon left for customers, who made donations to help out Marie Callender's employees.

"It's so sad," said Brooke Breazeale, a 41-year-old Medford resident, who picked up pumpkin and apple pies.

She said she passed the Marie Callender's on Dec. 14 and her daughter pointed out the burned-out remnants of the restaurant and a fire truck spraying water on the building.

She asked employees if they planned to rebuild, but they told her they weren't sure yet.

"I hope they do," Breazeale said. "Every time my mother-in-law comes to town, she wants to go there. It's her favorite."

Robert Baxter, assistant general manager of the restaurant, said the pies were cooked in Redding, Calif. However, the oven in Redding only held 72 pies at a time, while the Medford restaurant could handle 120.

The Fred Meyer store in south Medford allowed Marie Callender's employees to use its kitchen to make whipping cream for the pies.

Normally, Baxter prepares 1,200 pies for the holiday season but only made 700 this year.

He said pies are typically only kept for five days, but to ensure freshness with travel time, they will only be sold for three days, Sunday through Tuesday, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

By Sunday afternoon, about 100 pies had been sold.

"We're selling, selling, selling," said Baxter. "The rest will be donated to places like ACCESS."

James McKeane, general manager of Marie Callender's, said sales from the pies will probably not net any profits considering the costs of sending employees to Redding.

"It's a tradition to have a Marie Callender's pie," he said. "That's our goal — to keep the tradition alive."

Applebee's will also be donating 15 percent of its sales to employees of Marie Callender's.

Many passersby were unaware that the pies were being sold until they saw the tent.

"We just came down to get some coffee," said Marv Dunn, a 76-year-old Medford resident.

As his wife looked on, Dunn got a lemon cream cheese pie.

"I will probably eat it all by myself," he said. "But my son is pretty good at sniffing it out, so maybe he will help out."

Medford resident Kari Supplee said she and her friend buy pies every couple of months as a treat.

They bought a double lemon and a sugar-free raspberry.

"We're glad they were able to have pies for the holidays after what happened," Supplee said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or Follow on Twitter at @reporterdm.

A name misspelled in the photo caption has been corrected.

Reader Reaction
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Rules. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or fill out this form. New comments are only accepted for two weeks from the date of publication.