Royal Treatment

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Melissa Wagstaff, co-owner of The Little Crown by Pie Society

Savannah’s ties to Great Britain stretch back 289 years, when the city became the British colonial capital of the Province of Georgia. The Wagstaff family, who relocated to Savannah from Staffordshire, England, in 2013, has seen substantial growth — and made a lasting impression — in a fraction of that time.

“We opened our second Pie Society in City Market in 2014,” says co-owner Melissa Wagstaff (there’s the original shop in Pooler and a food truck stationed in Starland Yard once a week, too). “After our five-year anniversary at this location, we decided to make some changes and focus on creating a more unique, fun atmosphere.”

Pie Society in downtown Savannah soon became The Little Crown by Pie Society, which opened last spring. Here, Wagstaff shares how the diminutive shop churns out award-winning pies, and how the addition of a true pub experience serves to gild the lily.

Melissa Wagstaff and her brother, Edward

On Changing Perceptions

British cuisine does not have the best reputation in the U.S., and our aim is to change that. Our pies and dishes are a blend of old-school English recipes and more modern flavor concepts. My brother, Edward, makes all the food with his team of bakers, and they start work around 2 a.m. every day making pies from scratch by hand.

On Modernizing The British Pub Experience

The Little Crown is the smallest pub in Georgia, maybe even in the U.S. — we haven’t checked! My partner, Josh, is a wonderful mixologist, so he manages our bar and cocktail menu, which features anything from Tiki classics to the best Pimm’s Cup you’ll ever try. There’s a heavy gin presence on the menu, and all our cocktails have fun names that link to British pop culture, like Dr. Who, James Bond and Harry Potter.

On Cozy Confines — And That Striking Exterior

Since the addition of the bar removed our regular seating space, we paneled a corridor through to the building’s atrium and took over two of the small artists’ studios back there. Most pubs in England were previously houses, so they often have little spaces like these. Each room has a theme: one is called The Conservatory and features hanging baskets and glass windows; the other is called The Snug, which is a small, cozy anteroom that some older pubs still have. Both dining spaces feature artwork by local artist Stephen Kasun, who had his gallery in one of the rooms. The exterior is a bold shade of Pie Society blue.

On Working With Family

My brother oversees food operations, but it doesn’t stop there. My sister, Emma, manages the food truck, and I manage our Pooler and Savannah locations. We have a wholesale license to send frozen pies all over the country, and my brother’s fiancee, Linda, manages our shipping department. Our mum manages us all. We truly are a family business!

On Local Love

Savannah has such a European feel to it and is heavily linked to England historically. It also has an evolving food and drink scene, so The Little Crown, with its traditional meat pies and cocktails, fits in beautifully. COVID-19 was a totally unprecedented challenge we have been handling alongside everyone else. We had to close for a month after being open for just 12 days [in March 2020]. Since reopening we have had a brilliant response from locals. Long-time customers who used to stop by to pick up a pie now stay for a pint, too.