Kindergarten teachers Rhonda Cagle and Jean Ford have handed out free pies for more than five years.
Pie Peddlers, just off the square in Glen Rose, is a popular destination every Friday and Saturday. That’s when former students can pick up a free piece of pie.
The teachers say they bring their kindergarten students to the shop at the end of every school year, when each student receives a free piece of pie. And they can come back all summer for more.
“We have kids coming back six, seven years later still asking for free pie,” Cagle said. “We love to see the kids come back and keep in touch.”
The duo began their successful pie business almost by default.
“We knew we wanted to go into business together,” Cagle said. “We started out thinking about hamburgers or sandwiches, but couldn’t find a place to rent.”
They had always made pies for church and school and began taking Thanksgiving pie orders. They sold 20 pies that first year and saved the money in a little brown envelope. Eventually, they had enough money to buy their first refrigerator box.
Ford said five years ago, they set up shop in the corner of the Country Peddler. They would make pies at home and bring them in to sell. After just six months, they had enough money to buy an oven and three tables. In late 2005, their business had outgrown their little corner in the Country Peddler, so they divided the shop and set up a full-fledged bakery.
Loyal customers now look for the “pies today” signs in front of the store.
“People will see that sign and do a U-turn in the middle of the road. Usually on Friday, there are people already waiting in line,” Ford said. “People will say ‘Every weekend I pass by and I’m finally stopping’ or they’ll say they’re new in town. We get a lot of people who are new. And we have one couple that comes in from Houston.”
Both Ford and Cagle agree it is the people that keep them going. They said they have no idea how many free pies they have handed out. For the Pie Peddlers, it is not about the money, it’s all about the pie.
“People will come in and say ‘How do you make meringue that way?’ And if we’re making meringue, we’ll show them. We don’t have any secrets and we share our recipes,” Ford said.
“That’s the pie shop - we make you happy,” Cagle agreed. “If we can pay our bills at the end of the month, then we’re successful.”
The women use old family recipes, handed down from mothers and grandmothers. Ford said she has one recipe that calls for a stick of butter the size of an egg and another recipe that has a handful of salt.
Cagle said they do offer sugar-free varieties for all their pies, except key lime.
“Everything we do here is homemade,” Cagle said. “I’ve found a recipe for key lime, but I haven’t tried it yet.”
And the pies have taken on a life of their own. They sell about 70 pies on any weekend and up to 120 pies for holidays. Long gone are the days of serving only 20 Thanksgiving pies. Now they cook 250 pies on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Their best-selling pies are coconut meringue and the “every berry fruit pie.”
“You can have a pie any day of the week, if you give us at least a days notice,” Cagle said. “But you need to order early for holidays. We have a Web site with a full menu and our phone number.”
The pie peddling business remains a family affair. Cagle said her parents, Windell and Jo Rozelle, do the dishes on Saturdays and help make boxes, clean tables or run the cash register.
“We just couldn’t do it without them,” Cagle said.
The store donates pies to the Lions Club annual basketball play-off preview in February. A line of hungry coaches, scouts and players are usually waiting to devour the yummy treats.
Customers have even donated signs to help alert the haphazard passersby who may not notice the sweet, warm fragrance of fresh, homemade pies radiating through the screen door.
Tea parties can be booked at the store, for quiet and intimate celebrations.
“Hopefully, we’ve reintroduced pie to the world and to a new generation of kiddos,” Cagle said.
Pie Peddlers is only open on Fridays and Saturdays, so if you happen to be downtown, be sure to look for the signs and take a moment to indulge in the ooey-gooey sweetness of a homemade pie and have a happy day.
Or, to check out the menu online, go to www.piepeddlers.com any day of the week.