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Thrive Restaurant Group thinks the world could use a little Peace, Love and Pie

Wednesday, August 21 2019 4:25 PM

Who can’t get behind a little Peace, Love and Pie?

That’s what Jon Rolph and his team at Thrive Restaurant Group are banking on with their latest concept.

“We really believe that a lot of people have an emotional connection to pie,” Rolph says.

He says that could be from when their moms or grandmothers made whole pies from scratch when they were growing up.

“And there’s good feelings associated with that.”

Rolph got the idea for a pie shop as he toured the country doing research for his other latest concept, HomeGrown, a breakfast and lunch restaurant with east and west sites and a downtown one in the works.

“We stumbled across concepts that were focused on a premium dessert pie product,” Rolph says.

He started considering the same kind of concept, which is why he hired former Cocoa Dolce Artisan Chocolates owner Beth Tully in 2017.

Rolph will kick off the concept with two Wichita sites that he’ll announce as soon as details are finalized.

There’s also what he calls a 3,500-square-foot commissary at 37th and Hydraulic by Wheat State Distilling where the pies will be made fresh daily and taken to the storefronts.

There will be eight pies on the menu, and they’ll change seasonally.

Customers can buy by the slice or whole pie.

“And then we’re going to have some really fun twists on things,” Rolph says.

That includes pie fries, which look like french fries but are made with leftover crusts and served with dipping sauce.

There will be piefaits, a takeoff on parfaits.

There also will be crookies, which are cookies made from pie crusts.

Pie shakes and premium coffee drinks also will be on the menu.

The businesses will have seating and walk-up counters.

Prices haven’t been set yet.

“I’m still figuring that out,” Rolph says.

For the last six months, Tully and new employees Hannah Schriever and Erin Groff have been working on recipes.

Schriever is a trained pastry chef.

“She just is young and full of energy — really creative energy,” Rolph says.

Thrive’s employees have been testing the recipes, he says.

“So it’s been, I think, a lot of fun for people working in our home office.”

Just as HomeGrown tries to partner with local vendors, Rolph says Peace, Love and Pie will use Newton-based Salted Creamery for ice cream to pair with pies.

“It’s just in that same vein of trying to find local companies that we can support with our brand.”

Also like HomeGrown, whose tagline is “cultivating kindness,” Rolph says Peace, Love and Pie is about taking a break and enjoying life.

“Peace, Love and Pie, we’re going to talk about enjoying the journey,” he says. “It’s a real sister brand and complementary to what we’re doing at HomeGrown.”

Rolph says he wants both concepts to grow organically, and then he plans to open more outside of Wichita.

Thrive also has 18 Carlos O’Kelly’s restaurants and 41 Applebee’s restaurants.

Rolph expects to be able to announce the Peace, Love and Pie sites soon.

“We’re getting really close.”

He says he’s getting the same feeling of anticipation he had when creating HomeGrown.

“I can’t wait to share this with the community.”

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