Ferndale's "pie guy" is in the final running for a $50,000 grand prize that would help him open up a brick-and-mortar restaurant in Midtown Detroit.
Rock City Pies owner Nikita Santches, who can be found at the Rust Belt Market each weekend selling his unique homemade pies made with local ingredients, is one of four finalists in the Hatch Detroit competition.
Voting is going on now through noon on Thursday for the competition, which will award $50,000 to the winner to start their own business in the city.
With the money, Santches plans to open Rock City Pies as a full-service restaurant with "pie" as the theme, offering pot pies, dessert pies, and other home-cooked, locally-sourced foods along with a bar stocked only with local beer and wine.
Santches said on Tuesday that he has been busy getting the word out to as many people as he can, including recently spending time campaigning at the DIY Street Fair. "It's been very intense," he said.
He says the main question he gets from Ferndale residents is whether he'll leave the Rust Belt once he gets a storefront of his own.
His answer? "No, I love Ferndale and I will never leave it. I'm going to buy a sign that says 'Rock City Pies founded here,'" he said. "I love Ferndale."
Santches said he is excited about what Hatch Detroit is doing to help rebuild the city of Detroit. "It's just phenomenal to be a part of this process to help this community," he said.
Santches, who emigrated to Michigan from Russia at a young age, told HuffPost Detroit earlier this month that his family's experience helped teach him his work ethic and values.
"Because I moved here at such a young age, I experienced seeing my parents work extremely hard to build a life in a brand new place," he said in the article. "It is this work ethic and the strong values that they taught me that I put into the things that I do and plan to accomplish."