With Thanksgiving just days away, it’s a bit crazy at Bang Bang Pie in Chicago. We caught up with owner Michael Ciapciak to get his perspective on how to navigate your busiest weeks as a business (we also learned the secret to his pumpkin pie).

Square: How did Bang Bang Pie get started?
Ciapciak: I’ve always been in the restaurant business but on a fine-dining level. I really wanted to create a more accessible and community-driven place. I love going into work knowing that we will see so many happy guests enjoying pie and biscuits. Being a casual place, we’re truly able to build relationships with our guests and be a part of their daily lives.

What’s your most popular pie?

Our fruit pies are generally the most popular, though classic Key lime is a very close second.

How many pies do you sell during Thanksgiving week?

This year it will be around 2,500.

How many pumpkins do you go through during the Thanksgiving season?

Many, many, many hundreds of pounds.

What’s the secret to your recipe?

Most definitely, it’s our house-made graham cracker crust. It provides a really unique texture and distinctive flavor. We also use a proprietary blend of fall spices in a traditional pumpkin filling.

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What’s your strategy for taking pre-orders?

This year we took all our pre-orders online. This system allowed us to be very organized and didn’t tie up our staff on the telephone for too long.

What advice would you give to other small businesses that have seasonal spikes in demand?
Organization is key. You need to stay calm and focused, and always be thinking about quality over quantity. It may be many guests’ first exposure to your products, so you want to ensure that their experience is the same as if they came during a slower time of the year. Realize that everyone will be crazed and stressed during this time, regardless of whether they’re running their own business. Just focus on providing a happy experience for them, regardless of how busy you may be.

What Square features have been the most helpful during busy times?

We can run our whole business with Square with little complication. In addition to Square Reader, we use daily reports. The item sales list helps us plan our inventory accordingly.

What’s the most rewarding thing about running your business?
Making people happy! We’re a daily place for so many of our regular guests. It’s so rewarding to establish relationships with our guests and be a warm, welcoming place for them hang out and fill up on delicious food.

Learn more about the Square’s pos software and additional tools Bang Bang Pie uses to run their business.

Photo by Hilary Courts