“I want people to get something nostalgic. Something real. If it slows people down or makes them go into a different state for just a minute, that’s enough for me.”
Meet Mims, Atlanta’s princess of pie. Only two months after opening Pie Shop in Buckhead, it seems this pie maven has already won the hearts — and tastebuds — of Atlanta. Pie Shop was just crowned “Best Pie in Atlanta” over on Best of the Big A. Both the voters and I picked Pie Shop as our favorite local pie spot.
Mims has pie in her blood. Although her mom “didn’t cook at all,” her grandmothers did. In fact, her great-great grandmother owned a fried-pie shop in rural Cumming at the turn of the century. While none of those original fried-pie recipes survived in written form, they have always been a part of the family’s holidays. Every Christmas, Mims’s grandmother, now 92, brings the fried pies. Mims uses the same dough for Pie Shop’s fried pies.
But Mims didn’t originally intend to create Atlanta’s pie destination. Instead, she attended graduate school to study Philosophy, hoping to spend her career as an academic. On the side, she was a researcher for writers, professors and litigators. That was until she decided she wanted to do something with her hands. “I wanted a skill to call my own,” she says.
So, she started baking pies. She sought inspiration from old cookbooks and forgotten recipes. She used her research skills to develop the perfect all-butter pie crust through a lengthy process of trial and error. “Working the dough is my favorite part,” she admits, “It is metaphorical for life: be firm but don’t overwork it.”
Armed with the perfect crust recipe, she decided to pursue pie baking full-time and rented commercial kitchen space in Decatur. She cooked there for about six months, experiencing a surge in business during the holidays. This success encouraged her to look for her own commercial space last spring. And within two months, Pie Shop was born.
With the opening of the shop, Mims hired her close friend and pastry chef, Kim Keene, formerly of Alon’s, to work with her to develop recipes and bake pies. According to Pie Shop’s website, “Kim jumped on board just as soon as Mims had sold enough pies to afford her.” The two work hand-in-hand to create a new menu of sweet, savory and fried pies each week.
One of the first things you’ll notice about the fruit pies at Pie Shop is the light touch with the sugar. Mims believes that the fruit should be the featured ingredient and shouldn’t be overwhelmed by sugar. In addition to these fruit pies, you’ll find playful flavors such as watermelon chiffon, apple bacon and cherry chili.
I asked Mims what Pie Shop Utopia looked like. After a moment’s consideration, she reponds, “My goal was to start a little shop where I could meet people and have regulars; a place where I could play in the kitchen. It’s tempting to fantasize where it could go.” Although Mims has no immediate plans to do so, she confesses it would be exciting to open a second location in either Virginia Highland or Midtown. For now, she says, “It’s been a whirlwind. I just feel fortunate that people have found us so soon.”
And find her you should.
Pie Shop: 11 a.m.- 6 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays, 11 a.m.- 1 a.m. Fridays-Saturdays. 3210-E Roswell Road, Atlanta. 404-841-4512, www.the-pie-shop.com. $.
–by Jenny Turknett, Food & More blog
– Jenny Turknett writes about Southern and Neighborhood Fare for the AJC Dining Team.