Pie Fridays: It all started in a Bar!

Everyone’s Favorite

I used to have a popular pie cart called Pie Fridays.  I’d wheel it out on Fridays but that wasn’t why it was called Pie Fridays.  It all started on Friday nights in a bar in San Francisco.  I was a bartender there.  I took over Friday nights expecting to make way more money but the first couple nights I worked it was painfully slow.  I needed to find a way to increase my night.

“What if we sell snacks after the kitchen closed?”  I asked Corrine, an old friend and the waitress that worked the tables with me.  I brought in late night snacks, nothing changed.

“What about desserts? “  I made some brownies but nothing.

I brought in a beautiful and delicious lemon tart.  A little bit better, but nope.

Then I brought in an Apple Crumble Pie, wrote a “Pie Inside” sign on notebook paper and taped it to the door.  People came in just for the pie.  It sold out.

Apple Crumble

During that week I looked up recipes and made a wooden sign in the shape of a hand with a finger pointing into the restaurant.  It said Pie Inside.  When I opened at four pm with two pies, a few people immediately came in asking for slices.  Maybe this would work.

Heck Ya!

I started an email list so people could know what pies I’d have that Friday.  I made a chalk board sign for the other door with the night’s pies written on it.  My night grew.  It turns out people really enjoy drinking booz and eating pie.  I started inventing recipes, obsessively baking sample pies during the week.


Here’s my dirty little secret.  I don’t like pie.  I rarely have had pie that I’m crazy about.  I’m really a cake person.  So I made pies that I thought I might like in a way I might like them. I made old fashioned pies I had heard about but had never had before like Key Lime, Banana Cream, Chocolate Custards, Lemon Custards, Cheese Cake Pies, Strawberry Rhubarb.  I meticulously crafted recipes until they were exactly how I would like them.  Here were some of my pie principles:

  1. Use graham cracker or cookie crusts as often as possible.
  2. Banana Cream Pies should always have graham cracker or cookie crust.
  3. Make pumpkin pie with a ginger cookie crust, not traditional pie crust.
  4. Pie recipes are from the old days when they lacked good ingredients and refrigeration. Never expect to have a good outcome based on a recipe.  You will have to modernize it.
  5. Use salted butter.
  6. Always offer whipped cream
  7. Always sweeten whipped cream with powdered sugar and flavor it with vanilla or there’s no point.
  8. Rhubarb is disgusting and over rated. Use it sparingly.

    Pie Safe

I built a couple of cute pie safes  to carry my pies and to store them at the bar.   My night became a hit.  Pie Fridays continued at that bar for two years until I had a vision to take it to the streets.  But that story is for next time.


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