Life of Pie
Crisp air, crunchy leaves and crumbly pie crusts all go hand in hand with the magic of fall. All year I look forward to the few months when we get to cozy into hats and scarves and ready ourselves for the winter. This season also includes the presence of my two favorite holidays—Thanksgiving and Christmas, both of which are not complete without a pie to covet over at the dessert table all day.
Pie seems so communal—something that you can bake together and share with the people around you. Which reflects in the way that Leslie & Darcy of Pie Junkie got the beginnings of their business. The desire to share and help each other out with the cooking in their own homes grew into serving family and friends with a small catering business, and now their journey has taken them to an adorable shop in the Plaza District where they get to share their talent and love for baking and being part of building memories with Oklahoma City.
Restaurant Name: Pie Junkie
Shop Owner’s Names: Leslie Coale-Mossman and Darcy Schein
Where can we drop in and grab a slice of pie? 1711 NW 16th Street in the Plaza District of Oklahoma City
We didn’t plan on opening a pie shop in the beginning, but our business naturally grew in that direction. We like focusing on one thing and doing it well; plus pie is comfort food. It’s nostalgia. It’s memories of grandmothers, family gatherings and special occasions with people you love.
How do you come up with your pie flavors?
Leslie is our innovator. She is always on the look out for a new flavor combination or a spin on something traditional. Inspiration may come from an old cookbook or new flavor trend. Regardless of where the inspiration comes from, Leslie does a great job of making it delicious.
Tell us a little background on your business, where your inspiration came from, and what made you decide to take the plunge and open Pie Junkie:
Opening Pie Junkie happened very organically. We didn’t set out to open a pie shop…we just wanted to stay busy and make a little extra money while our kids were in school. We met when our daughters were in the same class at Mother’s Day Out. It didn’t take long to figure out that we not only lived a block away from one another, but our husbands traveled a lot. To share the load, we began cooking for each other every Monday night. Our friends figured out that we liked to cook, so we began catering small parties for friends and that naturally grew into a small catering business.
Pies really came into the picture when the owner of S&B Burger Joint asked us to make a pie for his brand new restaurant. We made one pie, then two pies, and along the way the pies became the star. Soon, we had a small following and felt good about opening our own shop. I think we were both inspired to cook by our mothers and grandmothers. We both spent a lot of time on the farm… Leslie in Oklahoma and Darcy in Tennessee. Growing beautiful gardens and baking with family came with the territory.
How do you feel like your business changed when you went from doing full catering to focusing on one product? Since you have specialized, how do you keep it fresh and exciting for both yourselves and your customers?
I think our customers and the business may have changed our focus before we did. We received more and more orders for pies, so it naturally transitioned. Seems like we made about 30 pies for Thanksgiving our first year. We thought that was huge! The nice thing about specializing in pie is that it can be sweet or savory, sugary or tart, baked or chilled. There are infinite combinations and finding our new favorite is a constant goal.
What is your favorite pie?
Darcy - I’m a drunken turtle. I’m a total chocoholic and this pie is rich with gooey caramel on top. What’s not to like? Leslie - Strawberry rhubarb
What is the most rewarding part of your business?
Our customers. When we hear from a customer that the drunken turtle is the best pie they have ever had or that the coconut cream reminds them of their grandmother… those are the best days.
Tell us a little about your food & business theory.
Do one thing and do it well. We make pie… that’s it. Each one is made from scratch by people who love to bake. We hope that comes through in each bite.
What aspects of Oklahoma City do you think are best for having a restaurant?
Oklahoma City is full of lovers of food and lovers of all things local. Being part of the growth of the Plaza District has been exciting. Ours is not the only district that is seeing growth. The city has much more to offer.
In what ways do you wish to see Oklahoma City grow, and which aspects do you hope never change?
We hope the friendliness of OKC never changes. That’s one of the things we love most about the city. In the future, it would be nice to see more sidewalks and walkable areas.
You talk about spending time with your family and baking reminding you of your grandmothers-- can you tell us one of your favorite memories from growing up that gives you the feeling of nostalgia centered around your baking?
I (Darcy) loved baking with my Mema. She made Christmas cookies with my sisters and I every year. I can only imagine how much patience was required for baking, icing and decorating with 3 little girls. In the midst of flour, colored sprinkles and candied fruit, there was typically a fight over who got to use the cookie press, but being in the kitchen with her brought pure joy.
Holidays for me (Leslie) were just a smorgasbord of baked goods—cookies, pies, and candies. My Mom and Grandma Vinita were always in charge of desserts. I just loved watching them mixing, dipping, and rolling out the holidays. And for me, I loved licking every bowl when they were done.
What can we find you doing when you aren’t making pies?
Um… we are always making pies. Or driving kids around town to dance and soccer.
What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Darcy: For me it is hanging our Christmas ornaments. We choose one ornament as a family that represents something significant for each year. When we hang the ornaments it’s a fun trip down memory lane and a reminder of all the things we have to be grateful for. There’s even a couple of pie ornaments on our tree now!
Leslie: I love picking out our Christmas tree. My girls get so excited running around the lot. It’s a joyful day.
What is on the horizon for Pie Junkie? Anything new and exciting we can be looking forward to?
This holiday we are working on offering more finishing touches… gift wrap, flavored whipped cream, and even Pie Junkie t-shirts.
Any tips for us on our own holiday baking?
Don't take holiday baking or cooking too seriously. Holidays are supposed to be relaxing and fun. Take your time baking and get multiple people involved. If the recipe doesn't turn out, have a good laugh. Or as Darcy says, "If the final product is great, take credit for it. If it isn't, blame the recipe." Either way, slow down and enjoy your time in the kitchen.
How can we order our holiday desserts from Pie Junkie?
You can order online at piejunkie.com or via phone at 605-8767. Orders for Thanksgiving open Tuesday, November 3. Orders for Christmas open Tuesday, December 1.