Americans love pie, especially in the last two months of the year. Bearden's newest bakery opened just in time to catch the first wave of the high demand for the dessert.
Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop, named after a Southern slang term for a cloud pattern that resembles the dairy product, baked more than 1,400 pies in preparation for Thanksgiving.
On Nov. 14, when the store had its grand opening, workers began taking pre-orders for the upcoming holiday. Before they day was over, they were forced to stop accepting orders to avoid an overload.
"We barely had a chance to get our baking legs under us before the holiday hit," Meredith Layton, co-owner with Scott Layton said. "We were working 16 hour days to fill all the orders – lots of time in the kitchen."
Spending time in the kitchen is a favorite of the Laytons.
The couple opened The Cup, which sells a variety of cupcakes, about seven years ago. After serious consideration, they decided to move into the pie business and a new home on Kingston Pike.
Buttermilk Sky's location – a free-standing, quaint building with ample parking space – is located beside the newly-opened retail store Anthropologie.
Inside, the pie shop feels like grandma's kitchen.
"We wanted it to have a really homey, Southern feel," Layton said. "We decorated it with lots of things we had in our family, like the stuffed armadillo named Crusty."
The armadillo had circulated throughout the family as a joke Christmas present, and the Laytons decided to keep it. Vintage pictures of Meredith and Scott's grandmothers also decorate the space.
"They were the pie bakers in our families," Layton said. "His granny and my nanny were the ones who taught us to bake."
Scott's grandmother specialized in fruit pies and cobblers since they were surrounded by orchards. Meredith's grandmother, however, focused on cream and pecan pies. The recipes have been passed on and are still prepared today with fresh and simple ingredients.
"Everything is homemade from scratch here," Jenna Ross, one of the shop's bakers, said.
The proof is in the perfectly flaky pie crust. With locally sourced ingredients, the pies move away from the freezer-burn taste of grocery store desserts.
"Some of our wiser population who have been around for awhile come in, and they rave about our recipes," Layton said. "They say things like 'this is just how I make it – now I don't have to anymore.'"
Even with 500 mini pies and 50 large pies prepared each morning, the store sells out well before 5 p.m. The small kitchen space and lack of an automated pie-crust press has limited their production capabilities.
While they wait for specific parts for a pie-crust machine they acquired from an Amish bakery, all of the pie crusts are hand pressed.
"My husband has the largest forearms you've ever seen," Layton joked.
The bakery had community members in mind when they decided to start a program called "Pie it Forward."
Each month, a different pie recipe is connected to a local charity. December's is a chocolate chess pie, and 50 cents from each pie purchase will be donated to the Love Kitchen.
There's a catch: in order to try the new pie flavor, customers have to pay for two mini pies. They get one, and the next customer in line receives a free pie. This way, Buttermilk Sky is able to raise $1.00 from each transaction. Students also benefit from the bakery's good will with a 10 percent discount on each purchase.
The business hopes to enhance the community's holiday spirits.
"We don't mass produce anything, and we hope people understand that," Layton said. "It's all done with much care and love."