Do One Thing and Do It Best
Dec 08, 2016 09:55AM
● By Dia
If there’s a universe without pie, then we don’t want to live in it. But if you’ve ever attempted to bake one from scratch, you know how laborious homemade pie can be. And trying to achieve the perfect crust? Well, that’s an art form all its own.
Megan Wilkes and Mary Sparks perfected the artistry of pie crafting and peddled their delicious desserts at farmers markets and restaurants in 2011. Within a year, the duo had amassed enough business to open a brick-and-mortar bakery in the tony Bishop Arts District in Oak Cliff. In 2013, Emporium Pies’ second location opened in historic downtown McKinney. This fall, they opened a third shop in Deep Ellum. From the looks of things, Emporium Pies might soon become a revolution.
“We opened a shop because we thought it would be a good venue for our community,” Wilkes says. “Where else can you meet a friend or go on a date and eat something delicious for less than $10?”
Wilkes says the first location soon became overrun with pie-seeking patrons, so the second shop in McKinney helped spread the business a bit. “We sold out of pies all the time,” she recalls.
The response to Emporium Pies has definitely exceeded the business partners’ expectations, but neither one plans to grow too fast, too soon. “We are an owner-operated company and we do it all, so we are committed to ensuring we produce a quality product,” Wilkes says. Sparks develops the recipes while Wilkes focuses on the business side of the counter.
While Emporium Pies stocks whole pies for folks to enjoy at home (or in the parking lot—we won’t judge), many customers appreciate the nostalgic experience of sharing a slice of pie over coffee with a friend. “Even if you can find a restaurant that serves good pie, you feel obligated to order a meal, too,” Wilkes says. “Here you can just order pie.”
With sweet shops specializing in treats such as cakes, cupcakes, ice cream and gelato, why pie? “Pies are a little challenging to make at home,” says Wilkes. “Pie crust is fickle, so people end up buying it from the grocery store and it’s just not as delicious. We knew we could make delicious pies and revive a lost art.” Plus, who has time to make pies from scratch— especially during the busy holiday season? “Our apple pie takes 12 hours to make from crust to completion,” Wilkes adds, saying she remembers making pies with her grandmother, but her mother didn’t invest the time.
Besides the American classic apple pie (aka Lord of the Pies), Emporium Pies has rolled out so many delicious options we can’t decide which to try first. Emporium’s take on pumpkin pie, Drop Dead Gourdgeous, features a gingerbread crust and a spicier custard filling than conventional recipes. Expect the pecan pies here (The Drunken Nut) to have a richer, deeper flavor due to caramelized brown sugar, bourbon and butter instead of corn syrup.
Merry Berry features a tartly delicious blend of cranberry and pecan filling over a signature salty crust and topped with a sugar cookie. “We like to say that if a cranberry muffin and a sugar cookie had a baby, it would be this,” Wilkes says. Buttermilk pies are a Texas tradition, so Emporium Pies adds a hint of chai spice and calls its version a Buttermilk Blitzen.
And if dessert isn’t dessert unless it’s chocolate, Emporium Pies understands. Try Father Christmas— an icebox pie featuring a chocolate cookie crust topped with peppermint filling and finished with whipped cream with peppermint on top.
Because the winter pie menu is the most popular—yet runs the shortest span of time—we suggest getting your orders in early. You can call the shop or order online. If you want to try before buying a whole pie (or a dozen or 100), each location serves pie by the slice and has seating for dining in. “After we open for the day, it’s first-come, first-served,” Wilkes says, “and you might have to wait in line.” Loyal Emporium Pies customers know firsthand that pies sell out, but the experience is worth the wait in line.
Emporium Pies has been a part of many special occasions—from holiday meals and weddings to first dates and even engagements right in the shop. “We’ve had couples who had their first dates here, so they came back to get engaged,” Wilkes says. “It’s great to be a part of people’s special times.”
Let’s raise a fork to sweet celebrations all year long!
107 S. Tennessee Street McKinney