By Edward Cardenas
DETROIT (CBS Detroit) – Lisa Ludwinski has been baking since she was a child, making unique creations in professional kitchens and her own home.
Now, after winning the 2014 Comerica Hatch Detroit Contest presented by the Detroit Lions Wednesday, she will be able to bring her hand-made, seasonal pies and cookies to a larger audience through her bakery Sister Pie.
“I am just so grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to be in such an amazing contest,” said Ludwinski, who credited the contest for focusing her dream for Sister Pie. “I have learned so much about what I want Sister Pie to be, and what it will continue to be when we open our doors.”
By winning the Hatch Detroit contest, Sister Pie will receive a $50,000 grant from Comerica Bank, along with legal, marketing, accounting and IT support from Hatch Detroit.
Ludwinski said she plans on using the funds to open the bakery at 8066 Kercheval in Detroit in April 2015, but she hopes to have a pop-up stand in front of the shop for Thanksgiving pies.
When customers enter the bakery and retail store, they will find “employees having the time of their life, creating delicious pies and welcoming the neighborhood in.”
Hatch initially received 240 applications from business start-ups to be considered for the contest. The list was pared down to 10, and the public had the opportunity to choose the four finalists. The four finalists had a public vote, and presented their business plans Wednesday to a panel of judges – and a crowd of nearly 300 – at the Hatch Off at Ford Field.
Using a combination of a public vote and vote from the judges, the winner was selected.
While the Hatch Off was the end of the competition, it “represents a beginning,” stated Nick Gorga, founder of Hatch. He said for the winner, and all the businesses named as finalists, that Hatch is “a step toward the next great retail business to open in Detroit.”
The three business concepts that also competed were
- Cockadoodle, a full-service breakfast and lunch concept planned for the Avenue of Fashion that embodies the values of farm-freshness, genuine hospitality, quality standards and community honor;
- Gabriel Hall, which plans to be a live entertainment bar & restaurant which celebrates the rich New Orleans-Detroit musical history and connection featuring an authentic Cajun menu and signature drinks; and
- Third Wave Music, an instrument retail store concept that plans to sell new and used instruments, provide lessons and operate a repair facility, and aims to become a necessary place for Detroit musicians.
The organization did have to deal with controversy during the application process for the contest this year when the Hatch Detroit Board of Directors accepted the resignation of co-founder Ted Balowski and announced there was investigation into his role in the organization’s finances.
Officials with Hatch stated further details could not be released while the investigation continues, and released the following statement:
“Hatch Detroit’s operations will not be effected. We are in close communication with our funders and community partners, and they remain supportive of Hatch Detroit and its mission to serve entrepreneurs in Detroit. We will continue, unabated, to carry out that mission through our programs across Detroit, including the fourth Hatch Detroit contest and our ongoing work with the Neighborhood Initiative, and support of our alumni.”
Supporters of Hatch also released statements in support of the organization.
“We appreciate Hatch Detroit’s transparency with their current situation and the steps they are taking to rectify it. Our collaborative efforts in the city’s neighborhoods and our support of the Hatch Detroit Contest are an important part of our Living for the City initiative. The Detroit Lions look forward to continuing our relationship with Hatch Detroit and making a strong and lasting impact in our community,” the Detroit Lions wrote in a statement.
Sister Pie now joins HUGH, La Feria and Batch Brewing Co. who are previous winners. In addition to the grand prize winners, other finalists – or alumni as they are called – have successfully opened including Rock City Eateries, Detroit Vegan Soul and Detroit Institute of Bagels.