LINCOLN SQUARE — Bang Bang Pie's Dave and Megan Miller are starting from scratch.
The couple have left their popular Logan Square pie and biscuit shop to open a bakery on Western Avenue in Lincoln Square, where they used to live.
At Baker Miller Pie Co., they will mill flour, churn butter and use them to make bread and sweet and savory pies with Megan Miller's great-great-grandparents' recipes — all things they had long dreamed of doing before opening Bang Bang with business partner and friend Michael Ciapciak two years ago. Food blogger Matt Kirouac first reported the move Wednesday.
The Millers this week sold their share of the business to Ciapciak, who said he was "super stoked" about his friends' new venture but emphasized it's business, and biscuits, as usual at the shop at 2051 N. California Ave.
"Over the course of two years we generated a lot of excitement and made a lot of people happy, and the net-net is that will not change," Ciapciak said. "My goal is to continue to produce some of the best biscuits and pies in the city."
Just last month, Dave Miller had talked about expansion in the works for Bang Bang, including a second location in Pilsen. He and Megan were recently named on Zagat's 30 Under 30 list; Dave is 29, Megan is 25. Things were happening.
But then, a spell of soul-searching and looming deadlines got in the way, Miller said Wednesday.
"We were thinking, 'Are we happy? Is this the life we want?' " he said. "We felt we were being pulled toward bigger rather than being better at our craft."
Miller said Bang Bang's business license, as well as the lease on the shop and the Millers' Logan Square home, all were up for renewal this week.
"There were so many things. It really made us pause and say, 'Do we really want to renew all this?' " he said. "When you're confronted with 10-year leases and these huge things, it's really eye-opening."
They settled on that answer quickly — within the last two weeks — and finalized the sale Tuesday with Ciapciak.
Ciapciak, 34, who lives in Logan Square with his family, within walking distance of Bang Bang, said the Pilsen storefront they had looked at "was not suited for what we wanted to do."
Those plans are, for now, off the table.
"I plan on continuing to refine the menu — no drastic changes," he said.
Bang Bang "is a beautiful thing, and it obviously will continue to be that," Miller said.
While the Millers haven't yet signed a lease on the Lincoln Square storefront, their idea for Baker Miller Pie has long been brewing. Dave grew up on a dairy farm in central Florida, eating grits and frog legs. Megan's great-great-grandparents ran a restaurant in Athens, Ill. — pies, meats, nothing fancy. They used what was grown, milled and raised right there in town.
Baker Miller Pie will take a similar approach, using dairy products from Illinois and locally grown grains as well as imported heirloom ones. They'll mill the flour on site and sell different varieties, including gluten-free and ground corn, by the bag in the counter-service spot.
"It's harkening back to when food was trade," Miller said.
Mid-July is the target opening date.
The bakery is taking over a former flower shop — the one where Dave first bought flowers for Megan when they were dating. They plan to keep the shop open five days a week, a change from the seven-day-a-week schedule they'd grown into at Bang Bang.
And they're moving back to Lincoln Square to live.