Thursday, December 15, 2016

Wheeling Edition: Oliver's Pies

Olivers PiesOliver's Pies is an institution in Wheeling. The Centre Market pie shop has a number of different pieces and cheesecakes, and even local shops sometimes serve Oliver's on their dessert menu.

Olivers Pies
How it got started: Our son, Adam Oliver, holds a third degree black belt in Taekwondo. In 2004 he had earned a spot on the young men's Team USA and was going to South Korea to compete in the World ITF Championship Tournament. He had competed in three preliminary tournaments in Ohio, Texas and Connecticut to qualify for the team and was thrilled when he was selected to represent the United States at this worldwide tournament along with his friend, Zac Taylor, who had earned a spot on the men's Team USA. My husband, Jim, and Zac's dad, Paul, were asked to go along as chaperones. It was the chance of a lifetime for all of them, but how in the world would we afford the cost of sending two people to South Korea for 10 days? The boys' Taekwondo school, Seszko International, sponsored fund raisers, but we still needed to come up with a majority of the funds needed.

One night, at about 1:00 in the morning, Jim sat straight up in bed and said, "I'm going to bake pies." Still half asleep, I responded, "That's nice, honey," and went back to sleep. Jim learned how to bake from his grandmother when he was a teenager and has loved baking ever since, but I was more than a little skeptical about his ability to bake enough pies to get him to Korea. Within the day, Jim had purchased supplies and began baking pies. The rest of our five kids went all around the neighborhood taking orders for homemade 10-inch fruit and cream pies. Friends, co-worker's, and family all placed their orders and we were soon baking a lot of pie. In six weeks we had baked and sold over 400 pies and earned enough money to send both Adam and Jim on their way, and in October, 2004 they spent an incredible 10 day journey touring and competing in South Korea.

After returning from South Korea, Jim went back to work as a crown and bridge technician in his own dental lab, but we often got calls from people asking, "Are you still making pies?" Several even suggested that we open up a pie shop. We toyed with the idea for several months and Jim decided that he wanted to give it a try, so in July 2005 Oliver's Pies was created. We converted a spare room into a "pie room" and the pie baking quickly took on a life of it's own. Jim would work in the lab during the day, and then we would all team together to bake in the evening for the next day's pie orders. It often meant 14-16 hour long days and limited free time for the whole family.
In February 2007 we opened a pie shop located in the historic Centre Market of Wheeling, WV, which gave us more public exposure and meant we no longer had to rely solely on delivery for our customers. We quickly became known as "The Pie Man" and "The Pie Lady" - word of mouth was an amazing thing. 
A year later in February 2008 we moved the entire baking operation down to Centre Market and then things really took off. Jim had given up his crown and bridge lab at the end of 2007 so that he could concentrate on the baking of Oliver's pies and the entire baking process can be observed by any visitor to the Centre Market. The smell of fresh baked pies is obvious the minute you walk through the door of the Upper Market.
Whole 10-inch pies and 7-inch "half pies" available Monday through Saturday, along with individual slices. We now offer homemade cheesecake, as well. Jim's love for his craft, his love and his respect for his grandmother, and his dedication to his family are found in each and every pie that is baked at Oliver's Pies. By the way, the kid who started it all, Adam, came home from South Korea as a world champion, placing first in the patterns competition, bringing home the gold medal. He returned home in December 2008 after serving a two-year service mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Salta, Argentina Mission.
Olivers PiesThe shop is inside the main building, with a few tables placed nearby. It's small, intimate and also a bit crazy busy.

Olivers PiesWhen we walked in, I immediately picked up a menu to see my options. Mmmm peanut butter or chocolate peanut butter. Or Old Fashion Egg Custard? But, mmm pecan. I had to. I got a slice of pecan pie and ... oops ... may have taken a bite before I even got a photo ... BUT, that's a testament to how good this thing is. Light, flaky crust with a rich, chewy center and delicious sweet pecans.

Olivers PiesSo, so good. The only thing that could have made it even better is a glass of cold milk to wash it all down. Ahh, you owe it to yourself to indulge a bit nd get a sweet treat.

Grade: A
Oliver's Pies Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato