Updated: Sep 12, 2019
As I walked through the door of Missy’s Pies, memories of running around the kitchen in my Nana’s house, Sunday church lunch and family cookouts came to my mind.
Yes, these moments can be cheesy, but they are memories that college students crave when away from home. This infamous pie shop on E. High Street brings back these nostalgic times for not only me, but for a lot of students at the University of Kentucky.
The bakery’s journey began in 1989 shortly after the also famous Ramsey’s opened. Ramsey’s, Rob Ramsey faced the problem of not having enough time or oven space to bake more pies for the customers. After noticing a place for sale next to the restaurant, Rob and head cook Missy decided to open the pie shop there. However, the next day, Missy was spontaneously off to Connecticut, leaving Ramsey all alone in the pie business.
But, with the help of Barbara Pollite, Ramsey made Missy’s Pies come alive. Pollite has been the manager and head baker for over 14 years. She was working at one of Ramsey’s restaurants when he called and asked her to run the bakery.
Pollite said the bakery would not be what it is without old-fashioned word-of-mouth.
“We try to put out the best product we can, so that being said, we use the best ingredients we can find...” she said. “I get a lot of UK students, they love pie so they definitely do us some business.”
The popularity of the pies has even attracted people from multiple states. Pollite said some of her favorite memories at Missy’s Pies have been times when she’s had conversations with people who came from as far as Michigan just to try a slice of key lime pie.
“Our pies have literally traveled all over the world,” she said. “ I’ve had people come in and tell me that they were in the airport in Atlanta and somebody offered to buy their Missy’s pie from them, sight unseen.”
However, it takes a lot of time and effort for these pies to be created for everyone around the world to eat. Pollite starts her day at 4 a.m. with the longest and most difficult task: the merengue.
“You have to make the pie (butterscotch, cream, lemon, etc.), let it set up, and then the next day we will merengue them and have to let them cool and drain before you can box them,” she said.
Then she continues with the cream pies and works her way to the dry pies, like the Mayday or brownie pie. She and her six other employees put in numerous hours behind the scenes to bake the best pies possible. Pollite said she often works 24 hours a day for several days leading up to the holidays. With help from her grandmother’s recipes as well as her own, she is able to knock out the original pies quickly.
There is a reserved amount of seating in the shop, but the close-knitness is what makes the experience feel so homey and sweet.
Julie Farral, a freshman at the University of Kentucky, described her first time going there just when she moved to Lexington. “They were very welcoming and so kind, all of them had big smiles on their faces and it was like a little, homey, type of place,” she said. Farral, like many other people, would have never stepped into the bakery if someone had not encouraged her to go there.
In this generation, young people often go to restaurants just because they are seen as “trendy” through social media, but somehow Missy’s Pies is one of those magical places that does not need any of that to attract people. It is simply the warmth, tradition and deliciousness that puts all technology to the side and allows others to have a conversation over a simple slice of pie with no distractions.
Anyone can have a special moment in Missy’s Pies. They are open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. For non-pie people, there is also a lunch menu.
Pollitte said the restaurant has Ramsey’s chicken salad, a pimento cheese sandwich, a teriyaki chicken sandwich and much more, including soups, for a reasonable price.
There is no excuse not to go to Missy’s Pie Shop one weekend with a group of friends to dive into a slice of pie and support the local economy at the same time.
Story written by Rachel Porter
Photos by Emily Wrenn