Written by Alexa Miller. Photographed by Ally Dweck.
It’s no mystery that food brings people together, and Hubbard Avenue Diner and Bakery is no exception. By using pie as an irreplaceable staple, Hubbard creates an atmosphere of comfort and familial experience for the Middleton community.
While incorporating the classic baked dish is not a groundbreaking phenomenon for diners, Hubbard pushes the boundaries of innovation by constantly introducing new pie-based creations. As an avid dessert-lover, I welcomed the opportunity to try the eclectic assortment of sweets. On a Tuesday at 6 p.m., I arrived at Hubbard and anticipated a quieter night, yet the diner was filled with families and friends sharing meals as they conversed at their local spot. I was greeted by Hubbard’s General Manager, José Garcia, who I sat down with to learn more about Hubbard and its pies, especially the pie shakes.
Hubbard is famous for its pies. The diner and bakery focuses on featuring as many pie-based creations as possible. With the offerings of pie shakes, customers can select their favorite pie flavor and transform it into a unique pie-milkshake combination.
The pie shake fits into Hubbard’s mentality of offering as many pie options as possible.
“By combining two well-established diner foods, shakes and pies, it gives customers that unique feeling of comfort that only a diner can provide,” Garcia said.
However, Hubbard also strikes a balance between nostalgia and innovation by continuously experimenting with new forms pie can take. The most recent of these experiments is ‘pie tacos.’ The Bakery Manager, Jason Harder—also known by Hubbard employees and frequent customers as “the pie guy”—came up with the idea to morph pies and tacos to create one deliciously crunchy, sweet-filled treat. The idea was originally to celebrate Pi Day (March 14th), which is when Hubbard introduces a new shape of pie for its annual pie eating contest.
While Hubbard is always looking towards the future in terms of what could be the next big thing for pies, its roots are firmly grounded in community and quality. Garcia, who has been with the diner for 16 years, affirmed Hubbard’s commitment to local ties.Garcia said Hubbard has regulars who come to the eatery two to three times per day. He also noted Hubbard’s ongoing involvement with schools, sports teams, and reading programs in Middleton. Hubbard supports and contributes to the community primarily through pie-focused fundraisers, donating the proceeds to various school or sports-based programs.
“We are in everyone’s minds here in Middleton,” Garcia said. “That’s my favorite thing about working here—how we support the community and how the community supports us.”
After speaking with Garcia, I went to the bakery section of the diner at the front entrance, which is self-proclaimed “famous for pie,” to admire the wide-ranging flavors of pie tacos, among various pie-based desserts. After careful consideration, I selected the pumpkin chocolate chip, chocolate cream and pecan from a full list of over 100 flavors. Each one consisted of a crunchy shell, pie-filling and a distinguished, sweet taste. Other flavors recommended and popular among customers are holy cannoli, maple pancake and crème brûlée.
I sat down and glanced around the diner, which was buzzing with waiters and waitresses, not only taking orders, but having full conversations with customers. Garcia’s words rang true. As I slurped on the thick, creamy goodness that truly tasted like I was drinking a key lime pie, (in the best way possible), I took in the comfort of the food and drink in addition to the surrounding environment: the checkered floors, the ‘50s signs, the booths and stools, all reminiscent of a classic diner. Hubbard emphasizes what diners created almost 100 years ago—a place for people to connect over their favorite meals with familiar faces no matter the time or day.
Although intriguing pie shakes and tacos may entice new customers as “instagrammable” food becomes increasingly popular, Hubbard is more than just a place to eat a quick meal. In fact, while the service is punctual, I watched as many customers stayed long after they finished eating to talk, relax, read a newspaper or generally enjoy their evening however they wanted to. Whether for Hubbard’s pie, sense of community, or comfort, people clearly keep coming back for more.