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Steve's Key Lime Pie to Relocate, Expand

By Alan Neuhauser | January 15, 2013 6:55am

RED HOOK — Red Hook pie fans can rest easy.

Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pie, acclaimed citywide for its signature confection, is moving to a larger space April 1, but it won't be leaving the south Brooklyn waterfront anytime soon.

In fact, the shop is relocating just 200 yards along the waterfront from Pier 41 to Pier 40, a space adjacent to Valentino Park.

"The opportunity came up for us to make the move, and there were some very compelling reasons to do this," owner Steve Tarpin told DNAinfo.com New York. "We already have a letter of intent from our landlord for something that will secure us for the next decade."

The new space, located at 185 Van Dyke St., is roughly three times the size of its current location, Tarpin said, and includes a loading dock, more recent electrical and communications wiring, and sheetrock walls built atop cinderblocks to minimize damage from future floods.

"For us to do any expansion at this point would be difficult to do. It's just easier for us to move into an open slate," Tarpin described, calling the move "a natural decision, but not an easy one."

Steve's Key Lime Pie was devastated by Hurricane Sandy Oct. 29. The shop went two weeks without power and it did not resume production until December, entirely missing Thanksgiving, its busiest time of the year.

"Sandy is absolutely what made it happen," according to Tarpin, who said that rather that invest money in expensive repairs, he and his wife of nine years, Victoria Gomez, decided it was simply time to move.

"Loss of inventory alone was almost $35,000. That's just perishables, that's not packages. We didn't have income for a month."

A fundraising campaign the couple launched on GoFundMe had, as of Monday afternoon, raised nearly $13,000 toward a $41,000 goal.

As part of the move, Tarpin said he and Gomez plan to shrink and temporarily store Manos de Mexicanos, the gallery of Mexican art they opened next to the pie shop's kitchen. The gallery, when it does reopen at Steve's new space, will focus on the couple's collection of Zapotec rugs and Mata Ortiz pottery.

"The museum is going on hold for a while," Tarpin said. "In the meantime, we have great deals on Oaxacan ceramics. We don't want to put it in boxes." Most of the items for sale at Manos de Mexicanos, he added, are available at 50 percent off.

But while the museum will go on hold, pie operations will continue uninterrupted during the move, Tarpin's first since 1999, when he relocated his pie shop from a small bakery on Columbia Street to Pier 41.

Tarpin, who hails from Miami, has won national renown for his Key lime pies, which have barely deviated from the traditional five-ingredient recipe.

Made with fresh-baked crusts and whole squeezed limes, they have been crowned "the best Key lime pie, Mason-Dixon Line or no" by the New York Times and earned the shop a 26 rating from Zagat.

"It's going to be great," Victoria said, looking at Tarpin. "You got a good product. A great product."

Tarpin replied with a smile and a shrug. "She married me for the pies," he said.