February 5, 2007
Reported by: Britney Glaser
As KPLC celebrates Black History Month, we are profiling African-American people in the community who have a unique story to tell. Mrs. Anna Manuel is a Lake Charles woman whose talent in the kitchen has turned her into a pie-making celebrity.
It was 14 years ago that Mrs. Anna began baking pies in her kitchen to sell to the community. It didn't take long, though, for Mrs. Anna's pie orders to outgrow her kitchen and force her to move into a much larger bakery. Now, this family-owned business receives hundreds of orders each month, and Mrs. Anna says her sweets shop has been a true blessing through these years.
Mrs. Anna has arthritis and after retiring, she says she needed something to keep her busy. "Having this pie shop made me active," says Mrs. Anna, "where everyday I look forward to coming in and doing something rather than sit at home and do nothing. I had no idea it would've gone as big as it has gone now, and I really just thank the good Lord for that."
As Mrs. Anna's pie business has grown over the years, so has the number of tasty flavors. "We have pecan pies, peach pies, apple pies, cherry pies," says Mrs. Anna, "whatever pie you would like, we make." This business has come a long way since the first mixing more than 14 years ago. Mrs. Anna's son and partner-in-business, Carl Manuel says, "My mother actually started in her house with two rolling pins: her pin and then my pin." Now this shop stays busy around the clock. One Mrs. Anna's Pies regular customer, Mary Malvo says, "I've gotta stay away from here because I gain all the weight back that I lost." One pie crust presser, Merrick Thomas began working at Mrs. Anna's Pies after retiring from his job with the Calcasieu Parish School System. He says he presses about 4,000 pie crusts a day.
Mrs. Anna's pies are sold in towns between Houston and New Orleans, and there are even customers in California and New York. Can you believe that Mrs. Anna's husband once thought these recipes couldn't turn into a successful business? Mrs. Anna says, "He's excited now, he has his chest stuck out!" The employees of this family-owned business hope that others with an itch to go in business will pursue their dreams just like Mrs. Anna did years ago and continues to do today.
"I hope the legacy just goes on and on," says Mrs. Anna, "I'm just praying that it stays on for a long time."