Shortly after Pie Oh My! opened Thursday morning, Troy Garrett stepped up to the counter.
“I come by and buy all the time,” said Troy, of Barnhart, Mo., who does renovations in the Maplewood area. “When (the shop) first opened, I almost went bankrupt. I like the special ones. I haven’t had lemon lavender. So you named one after Schlafly?”
“There’s beer in it,” said shop owner Jane Callahan of the Oatmeal Walnut with Schlafly Oatmeal Stout Pie. “You know Alice who works here? Her boyfriend is a brewer.”
“(Jane) does quiche in the morning, too, that’s really good,” said Troy. “If Mama don’t get up early enough in the morning, I come here.”
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“We also have ready-to-bake savory pies,” said Jane, her hair tucked beneath a green bandana. “There are different kinds of empanadas. We’re making a big batch of chcken pot pies. Customers can put them in the freezer and then bake them.”
Three and a half years ago, Jane opened Pie Oh My!, a small retro-style shop in downtown Maplewood. Tall red chairs line a pie bar by the front window. The Yogi Berra saying, “Cut my pie into four pieces. I don’t think I could eat eight” is lettered on the wall. Pies in four sizes fill a case. The mini 2 1/4 -inch-diameter pies are $3 each; the 4-inch tarts are $5; by the slice, $4; a 5-inch deep pie that serves two or three is, $10-$12; and a full -size 10-inch diameter pie ranges from $21.25 to $26.50.
“We have 40 to 50 different flavors,” said Jane. “We have eight or so for walk-ins.”
The variety changes weekly, but usually includes fruit pies, pies with nuts, cream pies and custard pies.
“We use fresh fruit, peaches, rhubarb, berries when they’re in season,” said Jane. “We try to look at what’s available. If we would find reasonably priced blackberries, we would jump on that.”
Jane collaborates on recipes with her staff of four.
“Someone who works for me had experience doing gooey butter cake. Now, it’s one of my favorite pies.”
That day’s selection included apple, apple green chili pecan, cherry, lemon lavendar, coconut cream, Key lime, Mexican chocolate and the oatmeal walnut.
“The next week we mix it up a little bit,” said Jane, who is married and has two grown children. “We want someone to be able to come in and say, ‘I haven’t tried that one before. The nice thing about the small size is you can try something new for $3.26. We make apple pie every day. The chocolate bourbon pecan is made with Missouri pecans and Jim Beam to enhance the flavor.
If someone says they don’t like pie, we say, “I bet you haven’t had a good pie.
Jane Callahan on My Oh Pie! pies
“If someone says they don’t like pie, we say, “I bet you haven’t had a good pie.”
That day, she also had prepared a sample of mini free-form cherry galettes. They are what Pie Oh My! will serve during Maplewood’s Sweet Tooth Tour from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 23. The pie shop is one of 14 stops on the tour. Tickets are $18 and available at Pie Oh My! and other nearby businesses, including Schlafly Bottleworks, Strange Donuts and Kakao Chocolate.
“People love cherry pie,” she said. “It’s a cute presentation, a hand-held thing, not messy and doesn’t require refrigeration. It’s something fun, visually appealing and tastes great.”
Jane learned to make pie from her mother.
“I grew up on a farm in Minnesota. She baked a ton. We had a big family, big appetites. I took it for granted that everybody knows how. When I would bring a pie to friends or to colleagues, not everybody could do it.”
Jane was working as public policy director for Parents as Teachers when she considered making a change.
“I thought about what it was I wanted to do next,” she said. “(A pie business) would be a great thing for me to try, a great way to make people happy and have interaction with a wide variety of people. Every day in the pie shop, you can see tangible results of your labor. In my work life, that was a hard thing. You can’t put your hands on the outcome. This is a very measurable concrete business.”
She started in 2010 with $1,000. She rented commercial kitchen space and sold pies at farmers’ markets and delivered to individual homes.
40-50Different flavors at My Oh Pie!
14 Stops on the Maplewood Sweet Tooth Tour
“I approached it incrementally and conservatively.
“They could order online. For me, it was a good way to approach it,” said Jane, who had been a budget analyst in the past. “People were excited and interested. I learned what people like, how to make them better and in different sizes. I did it all myself. In the spring of 2012, I got more serious about opening a brick-and-mortar shop.”
Which she did in October 2012 on Sutton Avenue just south of Manchester Road.
“You can get to Interstate 44 or 64 without a lot of trouble,” she said.
“I was hopeful the business would do well. You are taking a gamble. I’ve been pleasantly surprised how popular it is and how business has grown.”
Pie Oh My! caters events such as weddings, showers and birthday parties.
In warmer weather, Pie Oh My! also sells its wares from a food truck. Jane bought it at an auction and had it refurbished. The cute truck, painted with pale green stripes and a fun rolling pin design, is now equipped with a convection oven and commercial refrigerator.
It’s a way to experiment and reach more customers. You roam downtown at City Garden, and see different tourists and business people. It’s a great way to get out and have people see us and try us on for size. It’s a bit of a lab for us.
Jane Callahan on her food truck
“It’s a way to experiment and reach more customers,” said Jane. “You roam downtown at City Garden, and see different tourists and business people. It’s a great way to get out and have people see us and try us on for size. It’s a bit of a lab for us. We sell savory items, empanadas, chicken pot pie, shepherd pie. We also serve pie by the slice.”
No matter what kind of pie, the crust is an important part of the equation.
During pie classes at the shop and at Kitchen Conservatory, she tells her students: “The technique is far more important than the recipe. Don’t over-handle the crust.” She advises students to make a bunch of pies. “It really is a tactile experience. When you do it back to back, learning sets in a little bit more.”
Her husband Jim’s job brought Jane to St. Louis 25 years ago.
“My husband has eaten a ton of pie. He gives good feedback. We were just in Costa Rica. You bet I had pie.”
Pie Oh My!
- What: Handmade sweet and savory pies in four sizes
- Where: 2719 Sutton Blvd. in downtown Maplewood
- Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays
- Wheelchair accessible
- Contact: 314 704-4416 or www.pieohmystl.com
- Upcoming event: The pie shop will be one of 14 stops on Maplewood’s Sweet Tooth Tour from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 23. Tickets are $18 and available at Schlafly Bottleworks, Strange Donuts, Kakao Chocolate, Schlafly Bottleworks, Mystic Valley, Larder & Cupboard, Vom Fass, La Cosecha Coffee Roasters,Traveling Tea, Encore Baking Co., and Living Room. See locations online at www.cityofmaplewood/sweet-tooth