New in Town

Traverse City eats in the capital city


When presented with the opportunity to host a pop-up restaurant at In KinD Bakery in Williamston, The Ugli Pi Co. owners Carrie Ballou and Ray Priebe decided to focus on breakfast, lunch and brunch.

“We’ve got a lot of friends that do brunch-type restaurants, and they’ve really charted an amazing path and shown the way to do this and still have a life — not being up until 2 a.m. and in at 5 a.m. trying to do prep,” Priebe said. “They lead a beautiful life, and we kind of wanted to emulate the same thing.”

The result is That New Place, which opened two weeks ago, serving pastries, breakfast classics, soups, sandwiches and salads, among other dishes. It will close Sunday (Feb. 26).

“It’s been a treat,” said Priebe. “The response and the support we’ve had in the community has been overwhelming and very sweet.”

Ballou and Priebe met at Great Lakes Culinary Institute in Traverse City. Ballou, a pastry chef, worked at the Grand Traverse Resort and Martha’s Leelanau Table in Suttons Bay, and Priebe worked at Trattoria Stella and Black Star Farms. 

They began dating after graduating and moved to Williamston in 2013, cooking independently for sorority houses.

When COVID-19 hit and sororities were shut down, the couple was left looking for a new venture. They founded The Ugli Pi Co. in fall 2020, serving Priebe’s savory pies and soups and Ballou’s pastries. They started off catering and eventually found a home at the Meridian Township Farmers Market.

“We got popular, we got a following, people came out, and things have gone really well,” Priebe said.

The couple was originally using the kitchen at St. Katherine’s Episcopal Church in Williamston but felt they needed a more personal space. In KinD Bakery, open Thursday through Saturday, was looking for someone to use the kitchen on its off days.

“It’s perfect for us because it allows us to do all of our fillings and frozen pies there. They close at 2 p.m., so we can always do our Friday night bakes for the farm market without interfering with their business,” Ballou said.

When In KinD gave them a chance to return to their restaurant roots for a few weeks, they jumped at the opportunity.

“I think there was a hole in what we like to do,” Priebe said. “I kind of missed cooking for large groups of people, and we kind of missed the restaurant life a little bit.”

They put together a breakfast menu for Thursdays and Fridays featuring frittatas, a quiche of the day, granola and overnight oats and a lunch menu featuring soups, sandwiches and salads. They also compiled a brunch menu for Saturdays and Sundays featuring the same breakfast dishes as well as eggs benedict, root vegetable waffles, biscuits and gravy, meatloaf, rosemary honey grits, succotash and baked French toast. Ballou’s homemade pastries, such as fruit galettes, cookies, brownies and toaster strudels, are available every day.

“The nicest thing, I think, is that we’re bringing a little bit of Traverse City food here,” Priebe said. “There are quite a few foodies who have come out and said, ‘We don’t have any food like this,’ and they’re excited. We’ve had people come back three days in a row. They bring their grandparents, their family. It’s crazy.”

“I’ve been able to work the dining room a little bit more than Ray has, and it’s been humbling to have people gush over your food,” Ballou added. “I put out a cake on Saturday morning, and I think it was gone in two hours, so I stayed late Saturday and baked again, and I put it out, and it was gone in about an hour on Sunday.”

When asked if they would consider hosting another pop-up, Priebe said, “It’s worth discussing.”

“We’ve even been approached by another restaurant to help them do something like this. I think we need to look at the math and a lot of the expenses,” he said. “The food service industry’s pretty hard right now, and we’re paying the servers and the kitchen people a lot more than other people because we’re just trying to have fun and make sure everybody does well.”


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

Connect with us