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EmployABILITY Champion: Petaluma Pie Company

Founded in 2010, Petaluma Pie Company is a locally owned bakery cafe specializing in sweet and savory pies made with local and organic ingredients. Petaluma Pie Company takes the idea of “farm to table” seriously and buys many ingredients directly from farmers and other producers. We sat down with co-owners Lina Hoshino and Angelo Sacerdote to celebrate their business's new status as an EmployABILITY Champion and what that means to them.

Petaluma Pie Company's front door

How did you start your business?

We both were looking for a career change. We wanted to open a business that supported local farms and provided something small, wholesome, and easy to eat, so we decided to open a pie shop. Angelo has always loved pie! We made this decision right in the middle of the recession, so we wanted to be part of a more sustainable economy that supported other small businesses. There were some challenges to opening the store. We didn’t have a lot of capital, but we put in a lot of sweat equity – a lot of hard work. For many years, we worked seven days a week, especially during the holiday season. But it’s been worth all the work! 


How did you find out about the EmployABILITY Business Grant?

Here at Petaluma Pie, we’ve been employing individuals with disabilities and working with the Department of Rehabilitation for years. Our contact at DOR told us about the grant. We now have two individuals with disabilities working here. One of them is deaf, so we’re all learning American Sign Language to be able to communicate and help with team building. 

An apple pie from Petaluma Pie Company

How do you plan to use EmployABILITY Business Grant funds to grow your business?

First, we’re very excited and grateful for this grant! It’s giving us the opportunity to make some equipment upgrades and invest in our staff. The most exciting thing we’re using grant funds for is creating two internships for individuals with disabilities. The internships will work out to about 20 hours a week for each person. The interns will experience working in the kitchen, learning kitchen sanitation, knife skills, assembling pies, and food prep – all things they can use to start or further a career in foodservice or restaurant work. We’re also using funds to replace aging bakery equipment and getting a new air conditioning system. We’ve never had AC until now. That may sound silly, but not having AC really affects the dough as well as the employees and customers. In this changing climate where we’re having hotter and hotter summers, it’s really important for the health and wellbeing of people.

A Petaluma Pie Company employee giving a double thumbs up

What does it mean to you to be a recipient of this grant, an EmployABILITY Champion?

We’ve been employing people with disabilities and working with DOR for years, but we always dreamed of creating a formal program teaching hands-on food-service skills that let people have a career they love. This grant is helping us realize that dream now. We’re so excited about the program and about all the changes this grant has brought for us!

For more information on Petaluma Pie Company, visit


Image by Nick Karvounis

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