Growth Stages Success Stories

For the love of key lime pie, Fookem’s Fabulous creates the recipe for business success, with help from SBDC at FIU

Fresh and delicious key lime pie delivered in a convenient vending machine? Yes, please. It’s the latest expansion of Coconut Grove small business Fookem’s Fabulouswhich popped up during the pandemic’s early days as a home business and has since served thousands of Miamians and visitors the oh-so-Florida dessert. Hungry for more?

Fookem’s founder, Joshua Abril, was a former associate producer of television shows that went into “full pause” during the Covid pandemic, and without work he was searching for a way to pay the bills. He perfected his recipe for key lime pie and started selling slices from his lawn chair in his driveway and later also from a branded bicycle cart he’d pedal around the Grove. The community was “incredibly supportive” and the pies became so popular that his new small business, Fookem’s Fabulous, soon became more than a pandemic phenomenon.

We all know South Floridians have many choices when it comes to key lime pie, but Abril says his signature “sea salt Graham Cracker crust” is what makes Fookem’s Fabulous stand out from the crowd – but that’s not all.

 “When I began playing with recipes, I’d always try them out on a childhood friend of mine and her husband as they’re both very keen on their South Florida roots. One thing they’d always stress to me was that the difference between a good and great key lime pie was the crust, and so that was where I put my focus. That said, a good balance between sweet and tart shouldn’t be underestimated,” Abril says.


Just how good are these pies? Abril’s pie was named Key Lime Pie of the Year in Miami New Times for 2022 and also received a top award from the Orange Bowl organization. And here’s what Miami Herald Food writer Connie Ogle had to say: “These pies are delicious, citrusy and bright, with a sea salt Graham cracker crust that will make you reevaluate every other key lime pie you’ve ever eaten.


That’s high praise for the pies, which now come in the classic style and specialty ones infused with ingredients like coconut or guava. But Abril is also putting good business practices into play to get them in front of more customers, including via that vending machine in the seven-story Julia & Henry’s food hall, which opened in downtown Miami in June. He also sells pies to area restaurants, the Coral Reef Yacht Club, and Josh’s Premium Meats.

Abril recently secured shared kitchen space and he is training a second baker, which will be his first employee. He is also hoping to sell the pies from a Grand Avenue retail space he would share with another small business. “It’s all coming together and it’s great and it’s also terrifying because this whole time I hadn’t had to deal with the kind of overhead and fun stuff that real businesses deal with,” Abril says.

Julia & Henry’s expressed interest in April’s pie company more than a year ago as plans for the giant food hall were coming together. Abril said they batted around some ideas, and then a friend of his emailed a video of a vending machine with cupcakes in LA. Once he looked into it, and Julia and Henry’s liked the idea too, he researched the options and purchased a machine from China. That was an ordeal in itself – first problem, the instructions were in Chinese – but fast-forward to now and Julia and Henry’s patrons can buy a mini pie from the machine, a tasty serving for one or two.  “They [Julia & Henry’s] have been extremely supportive because they’ve been working with me on a lot of levels,” Abril says.

Throughout the growth of his business, Abril tapped the resources of Florida SBDC at FIU, the small business development center within the university’s College of Business. SBDC at FIU offers no-cost business consulting to small businesses in Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties. As it is with all SBDC’s business clients, assisting Abril was a team effort.  

“I didn’t even know what a spreadsheet was when I started this,” Abril says. “It’s been a daily learning process – learning whose advice to take, learning how to analyze your profit and loss, how to market yourself, how and where to spend your energy.”

SBDC Business Consultant Alina Matas, a specialist in business planning, started helping him “get on track” with just about everything he now knows about crunching numbers and figuring out profit and loss, he says. Abril also worked with SBDC at FIU consultant Mark  Mungenast, who has helped him learn the ins and outs of licensing and permits, figure out pricing, and create sales and marketing strategies. “Mark is my brainstorming buddy, my coach. You know what it is like when you need answers but you don’t even know the questions to ask? That’s what Mark is for me.” One of those questions was about grants and other capital opportunities, and Mungenast connected him to another SBDC at FIU consultant for capital assistance, and he has applied for expansion funding. “They’ve all been an absolute blessing,” Abril says.

Abril had his best month in sales in June, and now they have been talking about potentially expanding the vending machines to other areas – perhaps local college campuses and tourist attractions, Mungenast says. But for now, it’s all about helping Abril and Fookem’s grow into the next stage of the business. Adds Mungenast: “He’s lively, he’s busy, he’s involved, he’s personable – he’s a great client to work with.”


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