The University of Kentucky is known for its powerful basketball program, but it is the football program that’s known in the pastry world.
Mike Martin was a linebacker for the Wildcats back in the 1970s and, of course, he loved to eat. And while Martin did play briefly in the NFL, it was his mother’s pies that made him the star of the Kentucky football team.
Martin lived too far from home to get his favorite pies whenever he wanted them, so his mother gave him a crash course on building the perfect pie. He started making them for himself and his teammates. Nowadays, those recipes given to him by his mother are the cornerstone of his award-winning company, Mike’s Pies, located off of Florida Mining Boulevard in Tampa.
Mike’s Pies deliver up to more than 20,000 pies per week and you can check out his pies at places such as Wing House, Margaritaville, Winn-Dixie, Raymond James Stadium and Tropicana Field along with hundreds of places across the country. He offers same-day delivery.
His home office is clean, but Martin said that behind the scenes things can get chaotic.
“Sometimes I am afraid to walk in there,” Martin said. “It gets crazy but we make it work.’’
Martin got off to an early start in his love for pies. He never gets tired of eating them and it goes back a long way.
“My mom would bring pies to campus and I could eat all the pies I wanted,’’ Martin said. “I never had to wait until Thanksgiving. I learned how to make them and started giving them out as Christmas gifts and it went on from there.”
After his brief NFL career, Martin got into the liquor and wine business and decided to take his love for pies to the next level. His pie business became wildly successful, but could be even more successful if he didn’t start giving his pies away for good causes. Today, Martin gives pies to organizations such as Operation Helping Hands, Metropolitan Ministries, the Joshua House and donates them to many charity events.
“I joke that I give away more pies than I sell,” Martin said.
Martin sells the pies to restaurants, hotels and anyone who is interested. His pies are made without fillers, preservatives or any other artificial ingredients and it is a recipe that works. He has won 13 national championships at the Great American Pie Festival, and his Key Lime pie is nationally known.
Mike’s Pies are delivered to at least 40 states and several countries, and things are getting even busier. This year, Martin said, distribution has gone up 30 percent.
Check out Mike’s Pies at www.mikespies.com.