Made in Georgia: Family business offers a savory taste of South Africa, Britain

Pouch Pies is a family business. Seen here (from left) are Chantelle Malcher, Sarah Enslin, Charmaine Enslin, Sean Enslin, Claire Enslin, Jane Malcher, Catherine Enslin and Dave Malcher. Courtesy of Tanya Jacobs Photography
Pouch Pies is a family business. Seen here (from left) are Chantelle Malcher, Sarah Enslin, Charmaine Enslin, Sean Enslin, Claire Enslin, Jane Malcher, Catherine Enslin and Dave Malcher. Courtesy of Tanya Jacobs Photography

Credit: Tanya Jacobs Photography

Credit: Tanya Jacobs Photography

Dave Malcher, of Norcross-based Pouch Pies, loves a good pun. “We are pie-oneers,” he said, “working to see how far we can take Pouch Pies.”

After all, he reasons, pizza started as an Italian dish that someone introduced to the U.S. The family would love its savory meat pies, originating in South Africa and Britain, to find similar nationwide acceptance.

In 2010, the family moved from Johannesburg, South Africa, to the Atlanta area. “We researched to find the best areas to live in the United States,” Malcher said. “We wanted a place with warm weather, but we also wanted four seasons. We wanted somewhere with an international airport and that wasn’t too expensive. Atlanta, with its Southern hospitality, great weather with four distinct seasons, beautiful trees, and a growing diverse city, checked all the boxes.”

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The flavors of Pouch Pies' fare, such as this spicy chicken and Portuguese chorizo pie, reflect the Malcher-Enslin family’s world travels. Courtesy of Justin Evans Photography
The flavors of Pouch Pies' fare, such as this spicy chicken and Portuguese chorizo pie, reflect the Malcher-Enslin family’s world travels. Courtesy of Justin Evans Photography

Credit: Justin Evans Photography

Credit: Justin Evans Photography

Dave’s daughter Charmaine Enslin remembers that it wasn’t long after they arrived that they realized no one was offering the type of pies they grew up eating in South Africa. “Chantelle and I both have business degrees in entrepreneurship, and always dreamed of opening a business together,” she said of her sister. “We thought, ‘We should try baking the pies we remember.’”

With brother David Malcher in school at the University of Georgia, the family began its market research in Athens.

“Pouch pies are hand-held food, which is perfect for students,” Chantelle Malcher said. “We spent a lot of time doing market research with UGA students, and realized no one understood that a pie didn’t have to be apple or blueberry, or be a pizza pie.”

In 2015, they opened Pouch Pies as a restaurant in Athens.

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With the pandemic, Pouch Pies has expanded its offerings to include British favorites, such as sausage rolls. Courtesy of Justin Evans Photography
With the pandemic, Pouch Pies has expanded its offerings to include British favorites, such as sausage rolls. Courtesy of Justin Evans Photography

Credit: Justin Evans Photography

Credit: Justin Evans Photography

Customers had favorites, like the steak, bacon and ale pie, but the family loved experimenting with recipes. “We also tried some crazy things,” Dave Malcher said, including “a cheeseburger pie, fish pies, gumbo pies.”

The family opened a wholesale bakery in Norcross in 2017, run in conjunction with the restaurant, until the latter closed at the end of 2019.

Pouch Pies’ offerings can be ordered online, where there always are 12 flavors available, ranging from classics, like that steak, bacon and ale pie and a chicken and mushroom pie, to flavors that reflect the family’s heritage and travels, such as the spinach and feta pie that won the 2019 National Pie Championship for the best pot pie.

In addition to the pies, they produce other traditional South African and British fare, such as sausage rolls and hot cross buns, available at Easter.

“The pandemic made us realize we had to adapt to what our customers want,” Dave Malcher said. But, he added, building and expanding the business always was the plan. “The restaurant was a good foundation, but the intention was always to get into manufacturing. To make America the market.”

Perhaps the most popular item Pouch Pie offers is this pie combining steak, bacon and Irish ale. Courtesy of Justin Evans Photography
Perhaps the most popular item Pouch Pie offers is this pie combining steak, bacon and Irish ale. Courtesy of Justin Evans Photography

Credit: Justin Evans Photographyy

Credit: Justin Evans Photographyy

He said the pandemic has helped the business engage a more discriminating customer. “People are looking for convenient meals that give them the quality and experience of a home-cooked meal, and we are in that space.”

A key partner is Fresh Harvest, a relationship that started shortly before the pandemic began. “They’re an example of a company providing great local food and supporting local businesses, which is important to people right now,” Chantelle Malcher said.

“We’ve really enjoyed working with other businesses,” her sister Charmaine said, whether it’s marketing, packaging, or just appreciating “Percy, our UPS delivery guy. You realize how much you rely on every component, and we try to work with as many local businesses as we can.”

Pouch Pies’ products are available in the metro area at shops selling British favorites, such as Taste of Britain in Norcross and the Queen’s Pantry in Marietta, but also at the Buford Highway Farmers Market and small local outlets, such as Kelly’s Market in Decatur and the Front Porch of Vinings.

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