October 18, 2016

Bang Bang Pie Shop: More than Just a Pie Shop

A backyard sprinkled with picnic tables and tomato plants and surrounded by a white picket fence give Bang Bang Pie Shop an unpretentious, down-home feel. Owner Michael Ciapciak describes it as “Logan Square’s family room." Ciapciak has built his business on Midwestern comfort food and his personable nature. He can often be found at the shop chatting with regulars and greeting customers. “The best thing about being a business owner in a small neighborhood is that you feel like you’re part of a community,” he says. “It’s not just about transactions.”

Ciapciak, along with husband and wife David and Meghan Miller, opened the bakery in 2012. Originally, its menu included only pie and coffee and was open only during the afternoon. When the trio expanded the shop’s hours to include mornings, they knew they needed to serve something in addition to pie. And so, biscuits were added to the menu. The options have since expanded, with the addition of pot pies, grits, and candied bacon, but the menu remains limited for a reason. Ciapciak figures, “Why give people so many options that might be subpar?”

Bang Bang Pie Shop has made a name for itself with favorites like chocolate cream pie, key lime pie, and biscuits accompanied with “huevos.” The savory biscuit is a breakfast sandwich souped up with two poached eggs, black bean puree, chorizo, salsa verde, cilantro, and queso fresco.

Although the Millers have left Bang Bang Pie Shop, Ciapciak has continued to foster the friendly, community-focused vibe, something of which he’s extremely proud. “We’ve added value through brightening people’s days [and] contributing to local charities and auctions. We just did twenty pies for a block party the other day. It’s good to be in a position where you can do that, and it’s good to be in a position where people want you to do that.”

Ciapciak is very invested in the Logan Square community. On top of living there, he frequents many of the neighborhood’s bars and restaurants, including Parson’s Chicken and Fish and Fat Rice. He claims that Lula Café is the best restaurant in the city, and he’s a regular at Reno Pizza. “That’s my most frequented spot,” he says. “By just the sheer proximity of my house.” Another favorite is The Radler. “It’s one of the most underappreciated spots in Logan Square. There’s no reason for it not to have a line out the door.”

There isn’t much Ciapciak would change about Logan Square. He loves that residents supports local businesses, how friendly it is, and that he can walk to work. But his favorite thing about the neighborhood? “I love the people that are here.”

In Chicago, our homes extend beyond the walls of our apartments and into the neighborhoods where we live. Through conversations with local business owners, this series explores the institutions that give each neighborhood its unique character with the goal of helping renters find a place that feels like home.​

Ben Kramer is a freelance writer currently living in Chicago. He has written primarily about beer and alcohol for the ChicagoistRedEye, and Newcity. When not writing, he’s either busy being a barista or listening to Marvin Gaye.

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