Would you like pies with that?
McDonald's is to experiment with selling meat pies in its stores with outlets in the ACT to be the testing ground.
If all goes well, the pies could go national, although there are no plans at this stage to extend the trial further.
Twenty stores across the ACT – and other Maccas stores at Sutton Forest and Cooma in NSW – will sell the pies for six months from Friday. There will be beef and beef curry pies.
It's a potential windfall for former rugby league player turned businessman Sean Garlick who will be supplying McDonald's with his Garlo's Pies and keeping his branding on them.
"I mean nobody knows who supplies the buns, who supplies the patties, who supplies the fries but people will know who supplies the pies," Mr Garlick said.
"I can't think of a larger company in the world to take your brand on."
The weather in Canberra – and the fairly contained market – had something to do with the pies being tested in the ACT first.
"Canberra is cold and cold weather and pies go together well," Mr Garlick said.
Hani Sidaros, who owns and operates 11 McDonald's restaurants within the ACT, said the pies would appear in the Maccas cafe, over the counter and through the drive-through.
Mr Sidaros said the pies left any competitor in the dark.
"I could describe to you how good they taste but I don't want to make you hungry," he said, with a laugh.
"I am quietly confident they will sell well."
From humble beginnings at a bakery in Maroubra, Garlo's Pies currently makes about 35,000 pies a day at its headquarters in St Peters, also supplying Coles supermarkets and other outlets. It has 75 staff, including drivers.
Mr Garlick said it was investing $15 million in new facilities at Kingsgrove, including capacity to freeze 8000 pies in an hour.
The connection with McDonald's came from "sheer fluke" when Mr Garlick was seated next to a McDonald's executive on a flight to the US in 2014 when he was opening a Garlo's outlet in Los Angeles.
They started talking and Mr Garlick learnt McDonald's had launched a meat pie in New Zealand and was looking to import them into Australia.
Mr Garlick proposed supplying his pies and, after a long process, he finally got the green light.
That process including coming up with a new recipe that could see the pies made in Sydney but the pastry baked in store, on site at the McDonald's outlet.
Mr Garlick, who played for the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Sydney Roosters, said nothing in his football career could compare with partnering with a corporate giant such as McDonald's.
"I never won a first-grade grand final or played Origin or for Australia, so it doesn't really compare. It's just been quite surreal," he said.
"There's a saying in football, which does apply here, 'the harder you train, the luckier you get'. You've still got to be in a position to take advantage of that luck."
The pies will be available until January.
Outlets for the meat pie trial are: Belconnen, Belconnen Westfield Food Court, Braddon, Canberra Centre, Canberra City, Charnwood, Conder, Cooma, Dickson, Erindale, Fyshwick, Gold Creek, Gungahlin, Kippax, Majura Park, Manuka Plaza, Mitchell, Tuggeranong, Weston, Woden Westfield, Queanbeyan and Sutton Forest North and Southbound.
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