At Irwin’s Bakery and cafe in Wallingford, Seattle, owner Linda Fecher, along with staffers Brenna and Amanda, bake pies for Thanksgiving. They’re preparing apple, pumpkin, pecan, and marionberry pies that fill the entire cafe with a deliciously warm aroma.
I’m not really a fan of pies, but Linda is sure that everyone can find a pie they love. She probes my likes and dislikes then makes a suggestion. “You know, you might like pecan pie. It’s very rich, very sweet, and a small piece with whipped cream or ice cream.. oh my God, amazing! You want to try?” Watching them bake and enjoying the rich sweet aroma that swirls around us, there really was no way I was ever going to say no to that offer.
As I take my first bite of the pie, Linda tells me that she took over Irwin’s bakery and cafe in 2006, and that it has a history that goes back to 1927 when it was Irwin’s grocery and market. The great-granddaughter of the original Irwin, Pastry Chef Shannon Mattila, opened the bakery and cafe in 1997 and her influence on the pastry recipes remains to this day.
It’s clearly a popular place with locals. On the two occasions I’ve visited it’s been busy with many a familiar exchanges between staff and customers. The warm welcome obviously has a lot to do with its continued success, but then again, if all the pies taste as good as their quite wonderful pecan pie, then it’s not hard to see why people find it so easy to return to this place that Linda described as her ‘living room.’