Key lime pie is a delicious, tangy treat that has a unique flavor and a bright color that alludes to its distinctive, tart taste. Locals in the Florida Keys grow up eating the iconic, namesake dessert, made from the area’s signature limes. The Key West Key Lime Pie Company was started by Jim Brush and his girlfriend, Allison Sloat, with only $1,200 as a roadside pie stand. They eventually became successful enough to open a brick and mortar store and earned the title of “Best Pie” by the American Pie Council. However, even after making over a million dollars in sales, they were unable to turn a profit.
Key West Key Lime Pie Company on the Profit
The Profit Season 2 Episode 8
The Key West Key Lime Pie Company had been struggling for quite a while when Marcus visited their two locations, quickly spotting a variety of issues contributing to their lack of success.
The first thing Marcus noticed was that the shop was cluttered with items that weren’t made in house and had a low-profit margin. Marcus also wanted to taste the award-winning pies and asked Jim about the ingredients. He was unimpressed when Jim told him it was made with a premade crust, powdered pie filling, and condensed milk.
In the kitchen, employees were bickering about running out of the shrinkwrap. Jim was told they had been running low for weeks and may not have the money to buy more. Jim yelled at the employees, calling them liars, and threw a water bottle. One employee, Tami, took charge and ordered the shrinkwrap they needed. Marcus soon realized Tami was an extremely underpaid and undervalued employee. She was in charge of ordering supplies, staffing, human resources, and dealing with employee issues. Her paycheck was $300 a week.
Marcus decided to visit Key West Key Lime Pie’s secondary location, Big Pine. Here, Jim’s girlfriend, Allison, did a small number of sales and all the shipping. However, the first location he visited, Greene Street, was the only location that made the pies.
Jim thought the Big Pine location was necessary for business for shipping purposes. However, the store lost about $25,000 a year. After viewing both locations, Marcus let Jim and Allison know that their current business model wasn’t going to work. The biggest problem was the atrocious recipe. It should be a proprietary recipe using fresh ingredients, not premade crust and powder. He was willing to make an offer of $450,000 for 51% equity to help pay their debt and turn the business around. Jim fought against the deal, but with some insistence from Allison, he ended up taking it.
Marcus led an employee meeting to inform them that he was now in charge and what changes he was about to make – instead of selling products made by other companies, they were going to focus on their (now proprietary) pies. It was time to get rid of the small margin generic items. They would no longer sell anything that the company didn’t make. Marcus had three new chefs creating a new product that would beat out their old pie in any contest. Jim tasted the new chef’s creations but was negative about each one. While the other employees were tasting samples, Marcus found out Jim made a crust during special occasions. So why was he using premade crusts on his daily pies?
Marcus also decided to shut down the Big Pine location. Since it actually lost money for the company, there was no need to keep it around. Jim was upset about the loss of control, but Marcus assured him and everyone else; this is just part of turning into something better.
To upgrade the Greene Street location, Marcus spent over $200,000 on renovations, maximizing the floor plan and bringing the kitchen into customers’ view. They also built a new seating area, dessert station, and a beverage bar for the customers. He designed a new modern logo and was confident that there was a substantial market for what they were creating. Jim was still unsure about the changes, but Marcus assured him that as difficult as change is, it would all be worth it.
Key West Key Lime Pie Co. after The Profit
Key West Key Lime Pie had a grand reopening after its renovation. There was a lot of interest in the new business, and Jim’s opinion turned around. He finally agreed that getting rid of the non-company items was the right decision and realized that customers came in only asking for the new key lime pie.
Tami is happy with her new role in the company that reflects her duties and pays to support her family. Marcus gave her a 25% equity stake in the company since she was such a valuable asset, and her hard work deserves to be recognized.
After the show, Key West Key Lime Pie Company went from losing $100,000 a year to generating over $100,000 a year.
Today, you can purchase key lime pie, and other delicious desserts made right in the shop using fresh ingredients. You can also buy the sweet treats from their website and have them shipped directly to you in a couple of days. Thanks to their new recipe, the pies have won even more awards. USA Today’s “10 Best” named them best pie in Florida, and they have also been mentioned on Food Network’s “Throw Down With Bobby Flay.”
Their success has spread from selling in only one shop to providing wholesale to over 100 establishments across the United States. So even if you aren’t in Florida, you can still have a small taste of the Keys.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is strictly informational; INSIGNIA SEO is not affiliated with Key West Key Lime Pie Company, The Profit, or any of their subsidiaries.