Against the odds, Anna’s Pies is a successful small business

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - As a young woman, Georgiana Manuel remembers having to walk to the back of the bus because of the color of her skin.

“If all the seats that said black were filled, then we had to just stand in the back,” Manuel said.

Never did she imagine that one day she would own her own business.

“And things have really changed due to Martin Luther King. He fought so hard that we wouldn’t have to live that way all the rest of our lives. So, I had no idea that today I would be able to run my own business,” Manuel said.

She had other obstacles, such as crippling arthritis.

“I had arthritis so bad, I could not walk. So, I told my husband, I just could not sit in this wheelchair and waste away," Manuel said. "I said, ‘get mama’s old recipe out and let’s make the pies.’ He said, ‘no. I don’t think anybody’s going to buy these pies.’ And I said, ‘well you don’t know. Let’s just try!’”

Now it’s a business that distributes thousands of pies each week as far away as Alaska and as close as local stores. The flavors include pecan, peach, sweet potato, and many more.

"We started baking and we brought it to neighborhood grocery stores and they were selling so fast, it was unbelievable,” Manuel said.

And that was 25 years ago, but don’t expect to get the recipe.

“I really don’t want to give my secret out, but it’s a really a good crust. Everybody loves my crust,” Manuel said.

At 84 years old, Anna has turned over the daily operation to her son, Carl, who expects to keep it going for years to come.

“My mother; she’s handicapped, has two replaced knees, and a hip. Dr. King’s such a role model that you can do whatever you want to do. Just believe in yourself,” Carl said.

Still, Mrs. Anna is usually there keeping watch and making sure the quality is what her loyal customers expect from Anna’s Pies.

Today, there are many more resources available to those starting small businesses. For more information check the Small Business Administration. The SEED Center on Ryan Street in Lake Charles also has services to help those with a small business.

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