Upon entering Garlo’s Aussie Pie Shop, everything – from the decor to the scents – seems to lift you out of Westwood.
As the friendly voice of shop owner Sean Garlick welcomes you in, a short flight of stairs downward and the sign next to it guides the customer “to your table down under,” an eating area that’s appropriately south of street level. Beyond the novelties of kangaroos and hulking rugby players on the wall, Garlo’s brings to Westwood something authentically and undeniably Aussie: pies.
“Pies in Australia are very similar to what burgers are to Americans: They’re a staple diet,” said Garlick, a retired professional rugby player who started the first Garlo’s Pies in 2001 with his brother Nathan Garlick, a pastry chef.
Since its founding, Garlo’s Pies has grown to serve about 35,000 pies a day through a handful of franchise stores in Australia as well as a warehouse and export business for grocery stores and airlines. Westwood will be the franchise’s first international location.
“We’ve always had a love affair with America,” Sean Garlick said. “We grew up on American television and probably know far more about American culture than you guys know about ours. So there’s still that novelty factor.”
Knowing that they couldn’t rely on native Australians and tourists as their sole customer base, Garlick said they chose Westwood for its younger college crowd, hoping for a more open audience.
Unlike the Garlo’s Pies locations back home, Garlick said the Westwood branch is focused on introducing Americans to savory pies with an Aussie dining experience.
With ingredients imported directly from Australia to Westwood, each pie is crafted by Nathan Garlick and his team in front of customers, who can choose from a selection of about 10 savory pies and a few sweet pies, as well as an assortment of side dishes, desserts and Australian coffee. Among the list of fillings are chicken and vegetables, classic steak and curry lean beef.
Unlike some traditional American pot pies, each Aussie pie has a pastry base, allowing for better portability and making a knife and fork unnecessary. The Aussie way to eat a pie, Garlick said, is oftentimes on the go and almost always with some tomato sauce – or as we call it, ketchup.
The menu, condensed from its original form to ease in newcomers, also comes with a few local touches, including the fajita chicken pie and the mac and cheese pie slider.
For the Westwood location’s barista and head of retail operations Donna Stoilova, who moved to Los Angeles from Australia to pursue acting, Garlo’s Pies brought a piece of home to the city.
“This was the food I grew up on,” Stoilova said. “In the morning, when you smell it, you know to line up at the canteen to get your daily fix.”
Her favorite part of the job, Stoilova said, is recommending a pie to first-time visitors.
“When you see people that have never had a pie, and you recommend something and they like it, it’s cool,” Stoilova said. “Americans are kind of getting Australia.”