For pie-loving Teessiders, an old flame is about to make a much-anticipated reappearance.
The comeback of the legendary Upex Pie has been creating a storm on social media – and in just a week’s time the hungry hordes will finally get their fill.
And a couple of Boro legends – Jonathan Woodgate and Stewart Downing – will be dropping in to add a little stardust to Thursday’s launch.
The revival is the brainchild of Middlesbrough entrepreneur Steve Davies.
The famous stewed steak and gravy pies with soft pastry and were sold all over the town for almost 100 years, before the family business closed its last outlet in North Ormesby Road in 1998.
The tasty delicacy looked to have been consigned to the history books until four years ago when entrepreneur Steve registered the Upex Pies brand name.
Steve said: “We thought it was time to bring the brand back while people still have fond memories of them.
“We were fortunate enough to get the help of one of the original bakers from the original Upex shop on North Ormesby road, who started in the 70s and worked through into the 80s.
“Fortunately for us, the secret recipe and the method of making these special steak and gravy pies were lodged firmly in the baker’s memory.”
As word began to spread of the project, Steve found himself bombarded with inquiries from hungry pie fans chomping at the bit for a tasty slice of Boro history.
With help from Middlesbrough Council’s Economic Development team, he was able to find premises in Carcut Road on the Lawson Industrial Estate, not far from the site of the last Upex shop.
The shop officially opens for business this Thursday (November 26), with five people employed in the bakery from the launch and the potential of further jobs in the coming months.
In addition to the famous steak pies, the new range will include mince pies and pasties, corned beef pies and pasties, sausage rolls, chicken pies and by special request the old steak and kidney pie.
Also on the menu is the chicken balti pie developed in partnership with Jolsha at Marton shops who came up with an exclusive balti sauce to add to the succulent chicken.
The next step will be wholesaling to cafes, pubs, restaurants, chip shops and caterers, and there are even plans for a mail order service in 2016.
For all the footy fans who love a pie the Upex shop on Carcut Road will open on match days, while pies will also be on sale at the Lord Byron public House.
Steve added: “The response so far has surpassed all expectations, and we’ve had inquiries from all over the UK and even as far afield as Australia.
“With us having one of the original bakers from Upex, they taste exactly how they did years ago – from the soft golden pastry to the spillage of the dark meaty gravy followed by tender chunky pieces of quality steak.
“We also think we’ve got the best chicken balti pies around – we’re looking forward to people’s verdicts.
“It’s all about maintaining the traditional handmade methods that made Upex Pies what they were, and kept generations coming back for more.
“The response on social media has been incredible and has made us realise just how iconic the brand is, so we feel really privileged to be a part of something special.
“The comments of past stories relating to Upex Pies are warm hearted and true. Reading them over the past months has made us realise how much an iconic brand the Upex Pie is, and we feel privileged to be a part of it.”
Councillor Charlie Rooney, Middlesbrough Council’s executive member for regeneration, added: “Middlesbrough has provided the launch pad for some great independent businesses, and we’re always happy to help entrepreneurs with great ideas.
“Upex Pies are a real part of Middlesbrough’s heritage and folklore, so I’m delighted to see Steve bringing them back for the enjoyment of a whole new audience.”