Rush Hour: Mastering Meat Pies at KO Pies in South Boston

On an average lunch rush, the Southie pie shop goes through about 60 flaky, meaty hand-held pies.

KO Pies is located off the beaten path, at the corner of A St. and W Third St. in South Boston. All photos by Brian Samuels.

Finding a solid watering hole in Southie is never a difficult task: there are bars on every corner and liquor stores on every block, it seems. But one thing that was lacking, until KO Pies came along, was good food to go with all of that booze. The menu at the cafe is pretty straight forward, with a focus on traditional Australian meat pies. The classic beef pie is the runaway hit, but other versions come stuffed with braised lamb shanks or curried vegetables.

With bold fillings fully encased in flaky pastry, these pies provide the ultimate grab and go meals. On a lunch break, you can get in and out of KO in under 10 minutes—and finish the handheld pastries on the way back to the office. Of course, such efficiency requires an effective cooking system. I stopped by the shop recently to see how owner Samuel Jackson and his team gets it all done.

The mural on the side of KO’s building was custom designed for the shop to reflect its Australian roots.

Customers drive, bike, and walk over to KO Pies for a quick lunchtime fix.

Everyone in line typically goes for the cult-fave classic beef pie, the biggest seller at KO. Jackson says that counter service allows customer relations to go smoothly. “Having customers come to us, rather than us have servers, takes down a lot of potential awkwardness,” he says. “Plus, being an Aussie allows me to get away with being a tad more direct to people, which seems to bring out the best in people.”

A KO employee works on the dough, which is one of the toughest things to make. “Mastering the dough was the toughest thing,” Jackson says. “It is time consuming, affected greatly each day by exterior weather conditions such as humidity, and is the focal point for our crust so it needs to be spot on each time.”

A sandwich is prepared to-order in the kitchen.

Another KO employee prepares the classic beef pies, scooping filling into each mold. On the whole, Jackson says that the shop goes through about 60 pies in an average lunch rush.

Once baked, the pies sit on a rack to cool.

Orders get processed quickly. If it’s for a pie, it can take about 20 seconds from when the order goes in until the pie is in the hands of the customer, according to Jackson. Thanks to efficient prep work, everything else (like fish & chips, steak sandwiches, and spicy shrimp “on the barbie”) can be ready to go within 4-7 minutes.

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