Jeannie Weaver believes fried pies are not just country food anymore.
The Southern staple is served in large catering events and can be found in shops in just about every big city, she said.
On May 20, Mrs. Weaver, 40, opened Southern Girl Pies in south Tyler, offering goods that remind her of her grandmother's cooking. When she was growing up in Quitman, Mrs. Weaver often visited the bakery of her grandmother, Frances Coker, in Sulphur Springs. She said she hopes to use some of her grandmother's recipes, such as her oatmeal crème pie and her cookie and brownie pies, in her store.
While her grandmother was more into the “artsy” side of baking, often spending hours decorating cakes, Mrs. Weaver is more of a business-minded person who knows quality.
She looked for a new concept to bring to Tyler that involved Southern foods and found what she was looking for in Oklahoma. Two sisters near Davis, Okla. started The Original Fried Pie Shop in 1893 and Mrs. Weaver bought the more than 100-year-old fried pie recipe that reminds her of her grandmother's cooking, she said.
The Original Fried Pie Shop has 11 other franchise locations in Texas, as well as shops in Arkansas, Missouri and the original store in Oklahoma, according to www.theoriginalfriedpieshop.com.
Mrs. Weaver said the fried pies offer “Southern quality” — made fresh daily with quality ingredients. The fried pies can be filled with anything from breakfast ingredients, like a quiche; to chicken pot pie, brisket or pulled pork for lunch or dinner; or a fruit pie filling for any time of day, she said. They make buttermilk crust from scratch daily and can fill it with just about anything the customer asks for — from pecan and chocolate to cherries and cream.
Southern Girl Pies also sells its fried pies frozen so customers can take them home with instructions on how to heat them up, she said.
Southern Girl Pies also sells a variety of doughnuts made from Southern Maid Doughnuts recipes dating back to the 1930s, she said. Large doughnuts that are the equivalent of a cake can be ordered with any toppings and any decorations, such as for birthdays, anniversaries or sporting events.
“It's a party doughnut,” she said. “It's meant for more than one person.”
And children can come in to the shop to decorate their own doughnuts for parties.
A pie in a jar, made with any pie filling and a baked or fried crust, can also be bought or ordered for any catering event, such as a wedding, graduation or birthday, she said.
“I know Tyler has some needs for different things (that it doesn't have),” Mrs. Weaver said. “And that's what we're trying to do here.”
She said customers can come into the shop and have a meal for less than $5 and she doesn't exclude anyone's budget for dining in or for catering an event.
Next month, Mrs. Weaver's Southern Girl Pies will be getting some star treatment.
During the week of June 9, Mrs. Weaver said she will be in New York for the TV Food Network's three-day nationwide cook off, The Big Apple BBQ Block Party, which will be televised. Dean Fearing, a well known Dallas chef who has been on the TV network, is a big fan of the fried pies she sells, Mrs. Weaver said of why she might have been asked to participate.
Along with a man who owns Baker's Ribs Deep Ellum and also sells fried pies from The Original Fried Pie Shop recipe, Mrs. Weaver will be taking more than 5,000 fried pies to sell at the event, she said, adding that she is not sure when the event will be televised.
Mrs. Weaver and the Baker's Rib owner are also prepared to host a national fried pie eating contest at the Deep Ellum eatery.
But as she prepares to be on the national stage, Mrs. Weaver said she is above all a full-time mom to her son, who turns 3 next month. Mrs. Weaver said since opening Southern Girl Pies May 20, she has been helping to get the business established but plans to add to the 10 employees to help run the place.
Mrs. Weaver said she has two other locations in East Texas where she would like to open additional Southern Girl Pies shops.