What Sharon and Mike Braden loved was ... Creole food, in particular, the seafood pies that Mike's surgeon father made back in Louisiana. How good are they? So good Mike baked them to court Sharon. So good Sharon ended 30 years as a vegetarian to eat them. And, well, because she really liked Mike.
Sharon, a hospital clinician for 25 years, and Mike, an programmer and software developer, have taken the methodical approach to their business, but obviously, it's based on a shared love for the pies, and how they've seen others marvel at them. "I just love watching people take the first bite," says Sharon.
If you haven't tried a Doc Braden's Seafood Pie that's a terrible oversight. Because a surgeon developed the 3-inch pies to have the perfect crust-to-filling ratio so there's a bite of the flaky, lard-kissed crust in every bite of pie. Sharon and Mike are sourcing the shrimp, crab and crawfish from from the United States. Doc Braden's has the HACCP food safety certification from the FDA. The kitchen has a production protocol. The pies are baked in small batches of about 60. They have four Weight Watchers points each. The Bradens do all the delivering themselves.
And they're just devastatingly good, each bite with a bit of rich crust and the fresh, clean taste of seafood with a touch of butter and not much else — everything on the ingredient list is something you've heard of.
The pies are available at Produce Place, Butcher's Block, Grassland Market and the Urban Market in the Viridian, in accordance with the original plan, which was to get the pies into retail stores. But farmers' markets have been good for business. In fact, that's where a typical Bites reader most likely discovered Doc Braden's. They sell the pies hot on Saturdays (!), and in the warm months, they sell at farmers' markets in 12th South, Forest Hills and Richland Park. Louisiana Seafood in the Nashville Farmers' Market carries the pies.
They're hoping to expand to Whole Foods and perhaps The Fresh Market this year.
Besides everything else they're managing, the Bradens are pondering whether to produce 4-inch pies, which is kind of tilting the globe on its axis. Since their beginning, the mantra has been "two pies and a side is a meal." What would be the place of a 4-inch pie? It would be a bigger serving, but would also completely change the critical crust-to-filling ratio.
Still, deciding whether to expand a successful brand — all entrepreneurs should have such a problem.