Monday January 19, 2009
LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Don Callender, an entrepreneur with a passion for pies who built the home-based baking business of his mother, Marie Callender, into a popular brand, died on Wednesday in Newport Beach, Calif. He was 81.
The cause was injuries he suffered in a fall in 2007, said his wife, Katy.
Marie Callender and her husband, Cal, set up a wholesale bakery in Long Beach in 1948. Marie worked long hours producing pies to sell to restaurants.
The pies were popular, and Don Callender came up with the idea of opening a pie and coffee shop in Orange, Calif., in 1964. Named after his mother, Marie Callender’s Pie Shops Inc. was so popular that Don Callender opened two more stores in the region, at first selling only pies.
After experimenting with various recipes, he added hamburgers, ham sandwiches, chili and corn bread to the menu.
By the time Don Callender sold the company in 1986 to Ramada for a reported $80 million, the chain had grown to 120 locations nationwide. The restaurants are now a unit of Castle Harlan.
Marie Callender died in 1995.
Don Callender continued to work in the restaurant business until the end, starting Babe’s Barbecue and Brewhouse outlets in Southern California and a Jackalope Ranch restaurant in Indio, Calif., that opened the day after he died.