Dining With Denise Neil

Customers are ‘crazy for fried pies,’ overwhelm new Park City shop in first weeks of business

When they were sold inside the cavernous, often empty building just off the I-35 exit at Tonkawa, Fried Pies were a curiosity – something to stop and try because you needed a snack, wanted to stretch your legs and had to see what the FRIED PIES billboards posted along the Interstate were all about.

But now that they’re in Park City, Fried Pies are an edible sensation, and the new shop selling them often has customers lined up outside the door before they even open. The line is double on bierock pie day.

Arbuckle Mountain Fried Pies made its move from Oklahoma to Park City in December, and since then, the metro area has been discovering the joys of fried hand pies. They approve so enthusiastically, new owners Herb and Amber Callender admit they’re sometimes overwhelmed.

The former pie shop, which sat just off of exit 211 in a solitary former Stucky’s building, had been owned and run by Kurtis and Casey Stoll for three and a half years, and in that amount of time, it had developed a loyal following of people who would pull off the highway just to stock up on the individual hand pies. People would often make trips from Wichita just to buy them.

But the Stolls were moving, and they couldn’t keep the pie shop going. In a story I wrote in August, they expressed their wish (and the wish of their parent company, based in Davis, Okla.) that someone – anyone – would take over the franchise and move the shop it closer to Wichita.

Herb Callender, who has owned Valley Liquor in Valley Center for 15 years, happened to read that story and had always been curious about the fried pies. He made a few calls, and in no time, he and his new wife, Amber, were making plans to move the shop to Park City.

Just before Christmas, they opened the pie shop in a strip mall at 1542 E. 61st St. North, but it was different from the original. It was much smaller, with only about 30 seats in the store, but it was decorated and warm and cozy. It had coffee, and the Callenders offered dipping sauces – salsa, caramel, nacho cheese and the like – on the side.

Fried Pies were an instant Park City hit.

“It’s been nonstop every day from open to close,” said Amber, who was in charge of decorating the store. “There’s some days we’ll open at 11 and there’s already a line to the door, right when we open.”

Arbuckle Fried Pies are not what you get from McDonald’s or Hostess. They’re based on the franchise owner’s grandma’s recipe from the 1800s, and the crust is more like Indian fry bread than typical pie pastry. The pies are not glazed or sugared – just fried to perfection in peanut oil. Some fillings are sweet – like cherry, apple and coconut cream. Some are savory – like pizza, beef and veggie, and polish sausage and potato.

“It’s a unique product,” Herb said. “There’s nothing else like it food-wise in the market.”

The couple was surprised by the instant interest in the shop, and they did a few things to stoke it.

One was inventing their own fried pie, even though the store is a franchise and franchisees are required to use the same dough and the same fillings as all the other stores. The Callenders, who often battle about which one of them makes the best bierock, co-invented a fried pie with bierock filling and announced their creation on Facebook.

They were sold out of their 200 bierock fried pies before they even opened that day. When they offered the bierock pies again a couple of weeks later, those sold out, too.

Now the home office is working with the Callenders to create a recipe for a bierock fried pie that will be sold throughout the franchise. Until then, it'll be an occasional special.

Another signature Park City pie is called The Big Tex. It features the shop’s Tex-Mex fried pie, but the Callenders top it with nacho cheese, salsa and jalapenos.

“It’s so stinkin’ delicious,” Amber said.

Demand for the pies is so high that the Callenders have already decided to add more hours. Starting Feb. 1, they’ll begin opening at 7 a.m. so people can stop in for breakfast. The shop has several pies on the menu filled with things like bacon, sausage, egg and cheese.

The Callenders say they’re not sure why fried pies have become such a big thing in Park City, but they’re glad their instincts were correct.

“These people are crazy for fried pies,” Amber said. “It’s been better than what we thought it was going to be.”

Arbuckle Mountain Fried Pies

Where: 1542 E. 61st St. North, Park City, 316-239-6283

Hours: For now, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Starting on Feb. 1, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily

Flavors:

Sweet ($3.29 apiece) – apple, apricot, blackberry, cherry, peach, pecan, pineapple, no sugar added apple, no sugar added cherry, coconut cream, chocolate cream, lemon cream, vanilla cream.

Savory ($4.29 apiece) – bacon, egg and cheese; beef and veggie; broccoli, chicken and cheese; chicken and veggies; pizza; polish sausage and potato; spinach and mushroom; sausage egg and cheese; Tex-Mex.

Dipping sauces (50 cents apiece) –caramel, whipped cream, nacho cheese, Ranch, salsa

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