SHERMAN, Conn. -- On Memorial Day weekend in 1993, a new restaurant opened its doors in Sherman with the idea that honest American food and great pies would be a winning combination.
Twenty-two years later, the American Pie Co. has become an institution, drawing people in from throughout Connecticut and New York who want great meals, an easy-going atmosphere — and pie.
Co-owners Audrey Day and Bill Hunniford met as students at the University of Connecticut and worked in a restaurant together.
They kept in touch after college and, a few years later, decided to launch their own business.
"She had an idea of opening a bakery and asked if I was interested in pairing it with a restaurant," Hunniford said.
They decided it was the right time and set up the business in Sherman, Day's hometown.
"We were young, just out of college and really nothing to lose," he said. "We worked hard, and we made it what it is today. It is a very busy place."
The company's location is part of its draw as it sits at the intersection of Routes 37 and 39 away from any other restaurants or food competitors.
"It is a really nice weekend drive. We have people from Stamford and Norwalk who come here every weekend. Motorcycle groups come through and car clubs stop here and we will have 20 Corvettes in the parking lot," he said.
Although the restaurant has a strong and loyal base of local customers, it also attracts a huge following of people spending summers in the area or enjoying the charms of nearby Candlewood Lake.
Apple and apple crumb are the consistent big sellers among the pies, Hunniford said.
On the restaurant side, he said there is a clear favorite among their customers.
"Our chicken pot pie is huge; it is probably our biggest-selling single item," he said. "We sell it frozen for take out, in the restaurant and Stew Leonard's carries it."
The business takes pride in making everything fresh and filling in what Hunniford calls "country comfort food."
"Everything is big portions; we are known for that. You will never leave hungry," he said.