For hundreds of Bay Area Filipinos, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without holiday pie — and not just any pie, but one of Sweet Condesa’s Filipino-inspired pies, which come in nostalgic seasonal flavors like bibingka and queso de bola.
Owner Melody Lorenzo, the Bay Area’s self-styled “Pinay Pie Lady,” says the end-of-year holidays have always been Sweet Condesa’s busiest time. But this Christmas season will also be bittersweet: It’ll be the Filipino dessert shop’s last-ever holiday pie sale before it transitions from being a bakery business into more of a consulting agency next summer.
In other words, this might be the last year you’ll be able to secure an ube pie for your holiday table, short of having to bake one yourself.
Sweet Condesa’s graham-cracker-crust custard pies have enjoyed cult favorite status in the Bay ever since the pandemic turned Lorenzo’s baking side hustle into a full-time business. But the past year has been particularly difficult, Lorenzo explains. She’d moved Sweet Condesa from Oakland to the old Tselogs location in San Francisco’s Mission District with the idea of setting up an in-person storefront — but then city inspectors wound up nixing that plan. To make up for that loss, Lorenzo redoubled her efforts on the events and wedding catering side of her business. But it has been slow going.
“I don’t know if it’s because of inflation, but [business] is not the same compared to the past,” she says. “Sales are down.”