MORTLAKE'S Clarke's Pies shows just why you don't need to change a winning team.
Owned by the same family for three generations, the famous square meat pies are still made with the same recipe and crank-handled machine that founders Fred and Nellie Clarke used in 1949.
The shop celebrates a 70th birthday on Friday, hosting a free community event showing off memorabilia with free mini pies next to the store.
Owner Annette McLennan stood on store boxes as a child to mix pastry, and she now oversees the weekly production of 10,000 pastries distributed to 150 stores between Mount Gambier and Geelong.
"I'm so proud our family has stuck together and worked together for so many years, and we're still doing it," she said.
Annette's parents, followed by her and three brothers, all worked in the Mortlake shop and factory.
In the 1990s, the business had a frozen pastries contract with Pampas and Four'N Twenty and employed up to 120 people across factories also in Dandenong and Geelong.
That side of the business sold in 2007 but Annette continued to make the original pies in Mortlake.
She works in store with the help of her three children, Lisa, Nicole and Andrew, who one day could become fourth generation owners. A nine-month-old grandson Henry also already has an apron.
"We are here, we are hands on, we are seeing every aspect of the product being made, cooked, cooled, packaged. If your employee can see the passion you have for it, it passes on to them," Ms McLennan said.
"I am very passionate about it, it being my life. I'm proud of just being here and supplying a product that people want and have wanted for many years."
The store is busiest on long weekends, when travellers flock from regional cities, Melbourne and even overseas to buy boxes of pies.
"The original square pie always has been, and always will be I believe the favorite," Ms McLennan said. "It has not changed since my grandparents started it 70 years ago."
Friday was also Ms McLennan's 60th birthday, and she said showing off her life's work was a fine way to celebrate.
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