By Derek Maul

The Village Inn may be a full-service restaurant featuring casual family dinning, but for many people it’s all about the pies.

“Depending on the location, pies account for 10-20% of our business,” said Florida’s regional manager Dean LaFollete. “And Florida is one of our strongest pie markets.”

With 18 pie choices year- round, an extra selection during the Holiday Season, and promotional initiatives such as “Pie-Rush Wednesdays,” there’s no shortage of opportunity to indulge.

This year’s just-for-the-holiday treats include three versions of pumpkin pie, and then – in December – the award-winning “Candy-Cane” pie.

“It’s a white moose peppermint pie with little pieces of candy in it, a nice layer of chocolate, and an Oreo cookie crust,” LaFollette explained. “The pie has a fantastic flavor profile. It sells fantastic through Christmas, then on December 26th nobody wants it!”

All Village Inn pies are baked in house, LaFollete said, and under the auspice of “Legendary Baking,” the pie division of American Blue Ribbon Holdings.

American Blue Ribbon Holdings, Village Inn’s parent company, also owns Bakers Square, Max & Erma’s and Legendary Baking. In 2011, the 250-restaurant group merged with O’Charlies to add another 400 eateries.

For LaFollette, a highlight of the year is the National Pie Championships, sponsored by the American Pie Council ( and held in Celebration.

“The Candy Cane Pie was one of our blue ribbon winners this year,” LaFollette said. “More than 50 of our pies received blue ribbon first place awards. We’ve won more than any other company every single year for over a decade.”

With double-digit growth for three consecutive years, plus extensive restaurant remodels slated for early 2013, both Village Inn’s Brandon store (1995 West Lumsden Rd, 657-7382, manager Mark Rolph) and Riverview location (10293 Big Bend Road 741-3200, manager Dan Freeman,) are feeling positive about the future. Village Inn’s on-line order form, go to


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Kelly Legg has been writing for the Osprey Observer as a freelance writer for three years, and has recently taken on the role of managing editor for the Christian Voice newspaper. She graduated in 1989 from Florida Southern College with a B.S. in Communications. She currently resides in Riverview with her husband and three children.