A Belleville institution, the Pie Pantry restaurant, has closed.
Owner Tim Faltus said he decided about a month ago to shut down because running the popular eatery just became too much in addition to his other business, the Bellecourt Manor Banquet center.
“The reason is simply that there is too much to do,” Faltus said. “I really need to give all my energy to Bellecourt Manor.”
The restaurant, well-known for its delicious desserts as well as breakfast and lunch fare, shut down after one last meal on Father’s Day. But Faltus said that doesn’t mean you can’t still get your favorite Pie Pantry dessert.
“I’m going to keep making them,” Faltus said. “I have been the baker for several years and people can still get pies if they special-order them through Bellecourt Manor.”
Faltus said he will also honor previously-made plans to hold events in the Pie Pantry space.
Because the pies remain popular, Faltus said he never seriously considered selling the restaurant as a whole. He’s the third owner in a history that dates back 45 years.
“We’ve listed the space for lease through Barber-Murphy (real estate agency) and hope that someone can make use of this great space,” Faltus said.
Scott Schmelzel, owner of Big Daddy’s bar and restaurant across East Main Street from the Pie Pantry, said he was shocked to learn that the restaurant had closed.
“It’s always a surprise when a long-established business like the Pie Pantry closes,” Schmelzel said. “I can certainly appreciate how tough it is to run two businesses in this economic climate.”
Schmelzel said the loss of the Pie Pantry — along with the former Maxwell’s Restaurant, later known as Flamingo’s when it briefly re-opened — has drastically changed the landscape of the Belleville restaurant business.
“They were here before everyone else,” Schmelzel said. “You have to give them credit for how long they were in business.”
Faltus said he knew the news of the closing would be rough on some of his longtime customers.
“I had to write some of them a note because I knew I couldn’t say the words,” Faltus said.
Janet Bensley and her husband, Dave, used to go to the Pie Pantry every weekend. She was one of the handful of customers that got a hand-written note from Faltus — plus four pieces of pie as a thank-you.
“We’re going to miss it. We were regulars,” Bensley said. “We usually went on the weekend. We have family that is coming to visit for the Fourth of July from several states and they’re disappointed they won’t be able to go to the Pie Pantry.”
Janet said her favorite pie was strawberry rhubarb. Her husband prefers blueberry sour cream. She was relieved to hear the pies still will be available by special order.
The restaurant was located at 310 E. Main St. It has been at that location or across the street — formerly, in the building that now houses Tavern On Main — for four decades. It opened as Marilyn’s Pie Pantry in the late 1970s, with trademark pies, soups, sandwiches and salads on the menu for most of those years.
The Pie Pantry had 10 employees, Faltus said. Four will follow him to Bellecourt Manor to work. The other six were laid off.
To order pies, call Faltus at Bellecourt Manor, 618-233-8490.