Dining With Denise Neil

You can’t keep a good fried pie shop down: Tonkawa’s trendsetter is back in business

Dining with Denise: Save the Fried Pies!

The Wichita Eagle's Denise Neil travels down to Oklahoma to get a fried pie before they're a thing of the past. (Travis Heying/The Wichita Eagle)
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The Wichita Eagle's Denise Neil travels down to Oklahoma to get a fried pie before they're a thing of the past. (Travis Heying/The Wichita Eagle)

It’s been a little more than a year since the famous Arbuckle Mountain Fried Pies shop in Tonkawa, Oklahoma, – the shop on I-35 where Wichitans would always pull over for their fried pie fix – closed down.

Since then, the little roadside building that once held the sweet business has been empty and sad, and the famous billboards shouting at motorists to EXIT NOW: FRIED PIES have disappeared.

But now, the fried pies are back on I-35.

This weekend, new owner Diane Green-Martin celebrated the reopening of the shop in the same former Stuckey’s building where it closed in August 2017. Green-Martin, a former interior designer who now lives in Ponca City, said she was among the many who was distressed to hear that the I-35 attraction was going to close. “I, like everyone else, hated to see that happen, so I just made some cell phone calls and actually called corporate,” she said. “We had some lengthy visits.”

Green-Martin and her husband, who works as an electrical lineman, spent months refurbishing and repainting the shop. They even gave the kitchen a new layout.

They plan to sell the same lineup of sweet and savory hand pies that the shop had under its previous owner, but she wants to add a few gift items, too, like Oklahoma pottery and soap.

She hasn’t yet been able to replace the giant roadside signs urging people to exit now, but she hopes to soon. She’s also planning to add a giant, metal “fried pies” sign to the store front.

“We just haven’t found the right crane yet,” Green-Martin said with a laugh.

The closing of the Tonkawa store set off quite a fried pie frenzy in Wichita. When they were preparing to close, former owners Kurtis and Casey Stoll said they’d like to see someone buy the equipment and move the shop to Wichita, and several local entrepreneurs liked that idea.

In December, Herb and Amber Callender opened a fried pie shop at 1542 E. 61st St. North in Park City, and locals have gone crazy for them. Then, in August, Bradley Monahan, his wife, Laura, and her father, oncologist Shaker Dakhil, opened a drive-through Arbuckle Mountain Fried Pie kiosk at Northwest Centre, 13th and Tyler. They hope to add more.

Now that the shop that started it all is back in business, Green-Martin said, former regulars are stopping in to express their gratitude.

“So far, they’ve told us that they’re happy,” she said.

The shop’s address is 16560 W. Fountain Road, Tonkawa. It’s just off exit 211, about an hour south of Wichita on I-35.

Its hours are 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays.

The Wichita Eagle's Denise Neil travels down to Oklahoma to get a fried pie before they're a thing of the past. (Travis Heying/The Wichita Eagle)

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