By Julie Shapiro
TRIBECA — Twenty years ago today, Ron Silver began clandestinely baking pies in a subleased kitchen on Hudson Street.
He only had permission to open Bubby’s Pie Company for one day, Thanksgiving 1990, but word of his food spread quickly and soon he was busy dishing up sandwiches, coffee and more for residents of the fledgling neighborhood below Canal Street.
Since then, Bubby’s has grown into a 24-hour TriBeCa mainstay, and Silver, 48, has opened branches in Brooklyn and Japan and is considering a Los Angeles expansion.
"It’s a f--king miracle," Silver said when asked this week what he thought of the restaurant’s continued survival and success. "It’s been amazing to see this neighborhood change this much and to be a part of it."
To celebrate the 20-year anniversary, Silver is offering free pie outside Bubby’s TriBeCa location at Hudson and N. Moore streets starting about 11 a.m. Tuesday.
"It was the only thing I could think of," Silver said of the giveaway. "We started out as a pie company."
Silver has prepared 600 slices of pumpkin, apple crumble, pecan maple and pear cranberry pies for the occasion, and will give them to passersby and Bubby’s customers until there are none left.
As Bubby’s has flourished over the past 20 years, so has its surrounding neighborhood, which Silver, a resident, said has undergone a "more than a night-and-day" transformation.
Silver launched Bubby’s with just $10,000, a feat that he said would be impossible in lower Manhattan today.
He has made a few changes to keep up with the neighborhood’s new trends and appetites, like using locally sourced ingredients. But the restaurant’s focus is still on traditional family recipes, and the large variety of pies is still a centerpiece of the menu.
In addition to Tuesday’s pie giveaway, Bubby’s is also offering a community Thanksgiving dinner from 3 to 10 p.m. on Thursday.
Reservations are required, but the dinner is pay-what-you-wish.