A new pie shack in Lucedale is serving up more than just hand pies from its bakery window in the Agricola community—there’s a lot of heart and soul too.
“I am truly so thankful for everything that’s happening right now,” said Kaytelin Stewart, owner of Miss American Pie. “This is beyond my wildest dream and anything I ever imagined,” Stewart said. “I am so blessed, and I just want to do it right. This business means more to me than I could ever accurately put into words.”
Stewart opened Miss American Pie in January, and the bakery features five-inch hand pies made from scratch with traditional sweet flavors such as apple, blackberry, and lemon as well as unique fillings like cookie butter cheesecake, meatloaf, and mashed potatoes.
Ironically, Stewart never set her sights on being a baker. She doesn’t even like to get her hands dirty or have anything stuck to them for any amount of time. Not exactly traits of a typical baker.
“And as funny as that sounds, this isn’t even something that I grew up doing,” she explained. “Now, my mom did teach me how to cook and to be confident in trying new things, to step out of my comfort zone, but my love and passion for fried pies come from being so in need of keeping in touch with who I was outside of being a mom after I had Lincoln.“
She’s been married to her husband, Hayden, for seven years and Lincoln is their two-year-old son, who is affectionately called “Link” by the family. Stewart, like so many women, struggled with postpartum depression for the first six months of Link’s life and her mother encouraged her to try something new to offset the depression.
“I struggled so bad with just feeling like he didn’t know me and I didn’t know him,” she said. “It was very very hard and so I got in the kitchen and started trying to make things from scratch once every three days.”
She tried her hand at bread puddings, pot stickers, brownies, and several other dishes or desserts before finally flipping for fried pies.
“My sister, Kylie, and her boyfriend visited an Amish community and brought one back,” she said. “After it sat on the counter for a few days, I finally conceded and tried it. I remember thinking, I want to try to make this.“
And that’s exactly what she did and she hasn’t stopped since.
“My family encouraged me, so I made a post on Facebook and three people ordered,” she said with a chuckle. “From there, it has grown into something that continues to blow me away. I never expected this.”
She puts her heart and soul into each pie that goes out of the bakery window.
“But really, it’s all about our customers,” she said. “They did this. They have given us this opportunity. It’s important and we’re trying to give it back in whatever way that we can. This experience has changed my life. It has fulfilled and continues to fulfill this need to just be good—to my team and our customers. These pies saved my life. I love them, and I’m so glad that other people do, too. I want people to know that I truly, truly care about them and that they are valued beyond being a customer with me. The person I am today is someone that I am proud of because it came as a result of going through some really sad, dark times.”
And that passion is keeping her busy. She makes pie crusts and fillings for about 18 hours each week that begins on Sundays and stretching into Mondays. She tries to take Tuesdays off and spends Wednesdays assembling the pies and setting team goals for the remainder of the week. On Thursdays and Fridays, the Miss American Pie team begins frying pies at 6:30 a.m. to be ready for a 3 p.m. opening. On Saturdays, the team starts frying at midnight to be ready for an 11 a.m. opening. Each pie served is fried and iced on its corresponding day. And the pie shack continuously sells out, not just of favorites, but all of the pies made each day.
“I wish I could say that I have a schedule or at least somewhat of a schedule, but I do not,” she said, laughing. “Everything is so new, and I’m learning as I go so things are always changing.”
She’s come extremely far in a short time, but Stewart did have a fear or two the first day Miss American Pie opened for business.
“I was so afraid that no one would be there because it was raining pretty hard and it was so cold outside,” she said. “I left to go pick up lunch for my girls at Chik-N-Pig and when I came back and saw a line starting to form an hour and a half before we opened, I just remember thinking, what have I done to deserve this? I am so thankful.”
Her goals for Miss American Pie include continuing to be patient, easygoing, hardworking, and always doing right by her team and customers.
“I don’t know what the future holds but I hope that one day we will be able to expand,” she said. “I don’t know what that looks like, but who knows? I’ll just keep putting my best foot forward and trust that it will work out in whatever way it is supposed to.”
And she has a little advice for anyone wanting to start their own business.
“Just go for it,” she said. “It’s scary, sure, but you will never know what could happen if you don’t just do it. Make the post, put yourself out there, and step out of your comfort zone. If you believe, and I mean truly believe in what you’re doing—it will work.”
She added that you should always remain true to yourself.
“If I could go back, I would tell myself to put the joggers on and to wear the hat,” she said. “As silly as it sounds, for so long, I tried to make myself conform to this stereotype that I put into my own head and it was a constant struggle. A year or so ago, I decided that just wasn’t me anymore. So, now you’ll almost always see me wearing joggers with a hat on. It’s who I am, and finally, that’s just how it is.”
If you or someone you know is suffering from postpartum depression click here for resources that are available in Mississippi.