A Slice of Heaven
Small, scratch bakery Upper Crust is fast becoming a local phenomenon known for its dedication to the craft of American pie-baking.
It’s hard not to drool when peering into the glass display case lined with row after row of pie confectionery including strawberry, blackberry, lemon meringue, chocolate cream and gooseberry, to name a few. After a long deliberation over the dizzying choices, I was moved to go with the owner’s recommendation: “You just can’t go wrong with a cherry pie.”
After savoring the delicately sweet and slightly tart confection, I heartily agree.
Elaine Van Buskirk, along with her sister, Jan, started the business as a part-time weekend gig, baking and selling pies made by hand, most using their mother and grandmother’s time-tested recipes. Five years into their weekend hobby, the wheels started turning. Van Buskirk’s experience in marketing for Aveda, an upscale salon products company, was helpful in establishing the American pie Upper Crust brand, which hearkens back to a simpler time. The bakery is a throwback with its red and white checks throughout, as well as tasteful Americana decor.
Cherry and apple pies are hands-down favorites. However, depending on the season, others can outsell them, such as the summertime favorite, strawberry rhubarb, which is also Van Buskirk’s personal favorite.
During the holidays, cranberry pecan, pumpkin and mince pie are hot sellers.
The sisters originally started baking and selling pies from the lower level of Pryde’s Old Westport. Due to increasing sales and popularity, the entrepreneurial sisters decided to go all-in and open a brick-and-mortar storefront in the charming shops on the Santa Fe strip in downtown Overland Park.
The original business continues to operate out of Pryde’s on Friday and Saturdays, and the bakery is open in Overland Park, Wednesday through Saturday.
COOKIES AND OTHER CONFECTIONS
Though pies are decidedly the star of the show at Upper Crust, there are other handmade pastries to satisfy just about any sweet tooth. The salted caramel pecan bar, which is a scrumptious combination of chocolate, caramel and a light, crisp pie crust loaded with pecans, could pose a problem for someone with impulse control. It’s hard not to over-do it on this sweet treat. There are also cookies and bar pastries such as chocolate chip, a breakfast cookie, chewy oatmeal raisin, frosted banana and more.
Every day, a couple hundred pies are sold. Sometimes during the year, especially the holiday season, more pies may be sold. But the daily average is roughly 200 pies, which includes the smaller cutie pies which retail for $7 to $8. Full-size pies range in price from $22 to $25.
Check out Upper Crust Bakery at 7943 Santa Fe Drive, Overland Park, KS