"Jack the Pie Man"   1968
Make a better pie and you’ll succeed. That’s the philosophy which John H. Mastoris –“Jack the Pie Man” – developed in September of 1932, when he started his pie shop here – “with a half dozen pie plates from the five and 10, a small can of pineapple, five-pounds of sugar and a peck of apples from Dakins Market.” Today, after 36 years, millions of pies and a measure of success, Mr. Mastoris is drawing a curtain on operations, closing his School Street outlet, transferring commitments to another pie-maker.

Though conceding that quality control is sometimes difficult to maintain, Mr. Mastoris said that area restaurants, his prime sales source, will continue to receive the kind of pies synonymous with “Jack the Pie Man”. He’ll insure this by personally controlling recipes for whatever period might be necessary.

A native of Greece, Mr. Mastoris came to this country in 1914, going to work as a chef in a Brockton restaurant. He served in the U.S. Army during World War I, working thereafter in the New York City area. He came to Webster in 1932, taking a job in Parker’s Restaurant.

“I had only worked four weeks when the restaurant was burned out,” he said. “My wife, two children and I were stranded here.” That’s when the F.W. Woolworth-Dakins Market purchase took place. Mr. Mastoris had come to know the late James McGeary, who ran a restaurant on Main Street. “He couldn’t give me any work, it was at the height of the depression, but he offered to buy pie from me,” he said.

So, the Mastoris pie shop was opened, in a small store at the foot of Hill street, next to the railroad tracks. Facilities were adequate, but opportunities to develop a walk-in trade were practically non-existent.

To remedy this, Mr. Mastoris moved his operations to Mechanic Street, in the block next to the Central Garage, and later the home of the Deluxe Auto Driving School. He catered to the restaurant trade, making deliveries on-foot, carrying a specially-designed pie box.

That’s when Mr. Mastoris acquired his fanciful sobriquet: “Joe Simcusky was running the Buick Garage in those days, he related. “I was going by and he yelled: ‘Hi, Jack the Pie Man.’ The name stuck.”

Though pies were and always have been his specialty, Mr. Mastoris turned out gallons of
quohaug chowder on Fridays for several years and baked beans on Saturdays. “Little by little, business picked up and the production of pies kept us busy,” he said.

Located at his familiar station on School street since 1936, Mr. Mastoris is slowing down for a number of reasons, not the least of which is a steadfast refusal to compromise quality. “Our custard and squash pies weigh close to five pounds. We get almost twice as much per pie as do some of the packaged goods but give nearly four times as much in our product.”

He said that rising costs, competition and personal considerations forced the decision which took place at 12 o’clock this noon. His son, Nicholas, has been associated with him in the conduct of the business for many years, as has Mrs. Mastoris and “faithful employees.”

Mr. Mastoris says that his product has improved with time and knowledge, adding that he has always given priority to any measures, however expensive, which helped to add to the legend of “Jack the Pie Man.”

The desk in his School Street shop is chock-full of testimonials, garnered over the years; many of whom were introduced to his product in area restaurants, while visiting or touring the area.

Mr. Mastoris says that his favorite is one which he received years ago from a woman in Naugatuck, Conn., who got his address at the New Yorker in Auburn. “She was a champion pie baker, with all kinds of blue ribbons to her credit, but she wanted my recipe, she wanted to know how I made my crusts,” he reported.

The town’s veteran pie-maker said that tastes here are definitely to custard – by a wide margin. Apple follows with squas
-Courtesy Of
Webster Times

Copyright© OldeWebster 2001
send comments/suggestions to:
webmaster@oldewebster.com