Georgie Pie was a fast food chain owned by supermarket operator Progressive Enterprises, that hoped to be “New Zealand’s own home-grown alternative to the global fast-food giants”. It didn’t seem quite like McDonalds, and it definitely wasn’t your local bakery. Like the ad, the brand always seemed a bit “mock”. The commercial kind of gives me the creeps, which isn’t helped by the mournful reminisce of the faux Carpenters track, which always undoubtedly makes the mind’s next pitstop depression, pill-popping and Anorexia…not conducive to tasty pie promotion in my mind.
The first restaurant was opened in Kelston, Auckland in 1977 (this was the one local to where I lived as a child). In its short lifetime of just over twenty years, Georgie Pie achieved a number of firsts in New Zealand – first “Drive Thru”, first Breakfast, first 24 hour opening – and undoubtedly the first local brand to seriously challenge international fast food chains.
The overhead costs could only be offset by increasing production via the opening of more outlets and by increasing supply in various ways. The decision by a short term CEO not to continue with expansion spelled demise of the brand. This decision was based on his view that pies were unhealthy and demand would diminish. The brand was sold off to McDonalds, and by 1998 the last store had closed. RIP, Georgie Pie.
A Facebook campaign calling for the return of Georgie Pie gained 35,000 members. On September 28, 2008, the proponents hired a Christchurch bakery and temporarily converted it into a GP restaurant selling original recipe pies. It was extremely popular and sold out in an hour. This was done for a documentary that the students are making titled “Bring Back The George”. Predictably, McDonald’s threw around a few lawsuit threats over copyright infringement during the revival of interest and then announced they were looking into relaunching the brand. In a typical case of “If I can’t have it then no-one will”, this hasn’t happened of course – and the brand languishes, unjustly relegated to history although the market clamours.