Georgie Pie

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This article is about the fast food chain. For New Zealand's new domestic T20 tournament, see Georgie Pie Super Smash
Georgie Pie
Fate Reinstated (Mc Donald`s)
Founded 1977 (1977)
Defunct 1998 (1998); subsidiary of McDonald's New Zealand (2013 - )
Headquarters Auckland, New Zealand
Number of locations
32 (at peak)
Owner Progressive Enterprises (1977-1996)
McDonald's New Zealand (1996-1998)

Georgie Pie was a fast food chain owned by supermarket operator Progressive Enterprises that hoped to be "New Zealand’s own homegrown alternative to the global fast-food industry giants such as McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and Burger King."[this quote needs a citation] The first Georgie Pie restaurant opened in 1977, and at its peak there were 32 restaurants across New Zealand. After running into financial difficulties, it was bought out by McDonald's in 1996, mainly for its restaurant locations. The last Georgie Pie store was closed in 1998.

In 2013, McDonald's started selling Georgie Pie again through its restaurants after frequent calls for the brand's return. However, there are no plans to open dedicated Georgie Pie stores.[1]

History[edit]

Georgie Pie was the brainchild of Tom Ah Chee, who opened New Zealand's first supermarket (Foodtown Otahuhu, 1958). The first restaurant was opened in Kelston, Auckland in 1977. In 1994, plans were announced to open 25 new outlets per year, with a goal of 114 operating restaurants by the end of 1998. The chain came to prominence in the early 1990s with its $1, $2, $3, and $4 "Funtastic Value" menu, including the popular $1 "Small Pie." At its peak, the chain employed about 1,300 people. Georgie Pie was able to automate the food production process far more than chains which sold labour-intensive items such as burgers. Timing was a more difficult detail, for Georgie Pie, as it took 22 minutes to bake a pie versus a few minutes for typical fast food.

The "Georgie Pie"[edit]

Large pies at Georgie Pie came in a range of traditional (mince n' cheese/steak n' kidney) and exotic (Chinese/Mexican/Italian) flavours. The pastry was distinctively solid and free of flakes to avoid spills and mess. These large pies were round, encased in paper sleeves and sold in small, unique boxes. The sleeve allowed the pie to be eaten without being directly touched with the hand. Small pies, which had a distinctive square shape, were sold in bags. Fruit pies had a smaller round shape. .

A state-of-the-art Georgie Pie factory was located in Manukau City, Auckland. This automated factory replaced the original one, which operated out of Favona Road (behind Progressive Enterprises Head Office). The new facility was designed to support the continued local and international expansion of the brand. It was capable of producing more than 6,000 pies per hour. The pies were snap frozen (in a spiral freezer) in a raw state and distributed to stores, where they were freshly baked using impinger (conveyor) ovens. Upon its opening, the factory was the second largest investment for Progressive Enterprises.

Overhead costs of the new factory could only be offset by increasing production via the opening of more outlets and by increasing supply to the supermarket chains (Foodtown and Countdown). A CEO at Progressive decided not to continue with planned expansion, based on his view that pies were unhealthy and demand for them would diminish. This may have been a key factor in the demise of the brand (see Listener front page article[full citation needed]).

Closure[edit]

Following the decision not to continue expansion of the brand, inquiries (by members of the Georgie Pie management team and other outside interested parties) into buying the brand were declined. Progressive Enterprises sold the food chain to McDonald's in 1996,[2] who mainly bought the chain for its property, which included high-profile sites such as the corner of Great South Road and Green Lane East in Auckland. It also gave McDonald's a leg-up over arch-rival Burger King, who entered the New Zealand market in 1994 and were also actively interested in purchasing the Georgie Pie chain. At the conclusion of the deal, 17 outlets were converted into McDonald's restaurants. The other fifteen were sold, some to other fast food franchises or restaurants, one to a Bunnings Warehouse and one to a blood bank. The last Georgie Pie was located at Kepa Road in Auckland's Mission Bay where they ceased operations in 1998. The Foodtown/Countdown house brand "Foodtown" pies, which tasted nearly the same as Georgie Pies, were withdrawn in late 2004.

During the course of its twenty-one years in business, Georgie Pie achieved a number of firsts in New Zealand: first drive-thru and first with breakfast; first 24-hour drive-thru; and the first domestic concept to seriously challenge the international fast food giants.

Resurgence in popularity[edit]

New Zealand Broadcasting School students Drig Chappells and Gareth Thorne started a Facebook group calling for the return of Georgie Pie.[3] In September 2008, as part of a documentary known as "Bring Back the George",[4] they temporarily converted a Christchurch bakery into the restaurant and sold pies made with the same recipe as the originals. All of their pies were sold in less than an hour, with people coming from as far as Auckland to get one.[5] "Bring Back Georgie Pie" badges and T-shirts were available from a Wellington-based "Kiwiana" retailer until McDonald's identified intellectual property concerns and requested that their manufacture cease.[6]

A shop selling pies by the name "GP Pies" also opened in Kelston, West Auckland. McDonald's announced they were looking into possible copyright infringement of the name. They also announced they were looking into relaunching the Georgie Pie brand, not as a stand-alone shop, but possibly inside McDonald's outlets as a McCafe offering.[7][8]

In May 2009,[9] July 2011,[10] and April 2012,[11] media reports indicated that McDonald's New Zealand (the current trademark holder) were investigating a reopening of the brand. Nationwide radio station ZM even offered McDonald's $50,000 worth of free advertising if the stores were to reopen before the end of 2009.

Occasionally, genuine Georgie Pies came onto the market, usually through New Zealand auction site TradeMe.[12]

Relaunch[edit]

On 9 May 2013, McDonald's announced the return of Georgie Pie on a trial basis. From 5 June 2013, the original recipe Steak Mince 'n' Cheese pie (minus the monosodium glutamate) has been sold for $4.50 at the Queen Street and Greenlane McDonald's restaurants (the latter being a former Georgie Pie restaurant) in Auckland.[13] The trial was quickly expanded to five more McDonald's restaurants in Auckland (including at Kelston, the location of the original Georgie Pie restaurant), three restaurants in Hamilton, and the Te Awamutu restaurant. The relaunch proved so popular that special queues and security staff were bought in to handle the crowds. At times, the lines went out of the restaurant and stretched across the car park. In July 2013, the trial was expanded to four more Auckland restaurants, as well as two restaurants in Palmerston North, and restaurants in Feilding and Bulls.

On 1 October 2013, McDonald's announced that the trial exceeded its expectations, and it would subsequently expand Georgie Pie to 107 of its 161 restaurants nationwide by the end of 2013 and introduce two new flavours of pie in early 2014. It was expected by mid-2014 all McDonald's restaurants in New Zealand, except those which cannot accommodate the pie ovens, to be selling Georgie Pie.[1]

On 5 March 2014, the Chicken 'n' Vegetable pie was re-introduced to the menu.[14]

August 2014 McDonald's Sutton Forest and Sutton Forest Southbound stores in NSW Australia are selling Steak Mince 'n' Cheese Georgie Pies for $3.95 'for a limited time only' between 5am and 11pm.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Adams, Christopher (1 October 2013). "Georgie Pie now to be sold across NZ". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 1 October 2013. 
  2. ^ Workers at Georgie Pie were shocked by the decision to close, as expansion plans, customer loyalty and sales figures indicated business was booming. There was speculation that Progressive received a massive buyout offer from McDonalds that shareholders felt was too good to turn down - and rather than face a PR backlash, workers and the public were "fed" a lie. Adams, Christopher (22 July 2011). "Georgie Pie revival hopes kept alive". The New Zealand Herald. 
  3. ^ http://www.facebook.com/pages/BRING-BACK-GEORGIE-PIE-/29806579077
  4. ^ "Brief comeback for Georgie Pie". Television New Zealand. 28 September 2008. Retrieved 11 September 2011. 
  5. ^ "Georgie Pie rerun a huge success". The Press. 29 September 2008. Retrieved 11 September 2011. 
  6. ^ McDonald, Greer (3 December 2009). "Georgie Pie fan bitten by big guys". The Dominion Post. Wellington: Fairfax New Zealand. Retrieved 3 December 2009. 
  7. ^ Milne, Rebecca (25 January 2009). "Pie man V fast food giant". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 11 September 2011. 
  8. ^ Hembry, Owen (23 March 2009). "Can Georgie Pie make a comeback?". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 11 September 2011. 
  9. ^ "Georgie pie set to make comeback". Television New Zealand. 22 May 2009. Retrieved 11 September 2011. 
  10. ^ Adams, Christopher (22 July 2011). "Georgie Pie revival hopes kept alive". NZ Herald. Auckland: APN Holdings NZ. Retrieved 22 July 2011. 
  11. ^ Bourn, Alex (7 April 2012). "Georgie Pie rumour mill churning again". 3 News. Retrieved 14 December 2012. 
  12. ^ http://www.trademe.co.nz/Browse/Listing.aspx?id=336161471&ed=true
  13. ^ "Georgie Pie back from June". 3 News NZ. 9 May 2013. Retrieved 9 May 2013. 
  14. ^ "Chicken added to Georgie Pie menu". The New Zealand Herald. 4 March 2014. Retrieved 7 June 2014. 

External links[edit]