There are only a few people in line when I pull open the glass door at Edith’s Pie’s first brick-and-mortar shop in Uptown Oakland.
They’ve sold out almost every day of their first two weeks, I’m told, but my strategy to arrive around lunch, before the hordes have devoured too many of their butter crust confections, seems to have paid off. Every pie on the menu is still snug in the glass case at the register: the dreamy chocolate chess, the silky lemon meringue, the graham cracker–crusted peanut butter and banana Big Mama.
In the kitchen, co-owners Mike Raskin and Jeffrey Wright conduct the pastry orchestra as it moves nimbly from counter to oven and back again. One pours caramel into a pie shell packed with walnuts, the other slides savory hand pies out of the oven.
An unusually full pie case at Edith's Pie. (Adahlia Cole)
In week three, they’re finally hitting their stride, says Raskin.
“At first it was ‘how’d you sell out?’ We were like ‘we don’t know, we can’t bake them fast enough.’ Now we’re making the right amount. We’re not selling out as fast.”
But keeping their inventory in peak form is no easy task. They’re going through at least 75 sweet and 100 hand pies a day. “That’s straight up, day over day, as much as we used to sell in a week,” Wright chimes in.
It wasn’t long after Raskin sold Edith’s first pies by pre-order and pop-up style out of his one-bedroom Oakland apartment in 2019 that the brand began to draw a cult following. People couldn’t get enough of their seasonal fruit fillings, combinations like hibiscus and orange and mango-passion fruit meringue. They fell hard for the beautifully baked hand pies stuffed with savory fillings like spiced lamb and dates; for the creamy chicken pot pies; for the light and fluffy quiches.
Personally, I’ve not yet had the pleasure.
As Raskin and Wright describe their journey to this point, two generous slices materialize on the counter before me. The shop has been anxiously awaiting berry season and today’s daily special makes the most of the harvest, a triple berry pie made with sweet-tart blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries topped with a cloud of homemade whipped cream. Raskin doesn’t just know the exact specifics of the ingredients, he knows from which farm each berry variety hails.
Strawberry struesel pie and the Gemini & Leo cocktail made with cherrywood-charred manzanilla sherry and strawberry syrup made from food waste.(Adahlia Cole)
I can feel the blush rising in my cheeks as an inadvertent moan escapes around my first bite. I have to bite my lip to keep the same thing from happening again when I taste the cafe’s world famous scribble pie, an extravagant yet homey walnut, caramel, and dark chocolate confection folded into Edith’s signature butter crust.
It was this same kind of deep pleasure that drove Edith’s Pie forward month after month. And the thinner Raskin and Wright were spread, equipment and ingredients strewn between home and commissary kitchen, the more they thought about opening a permanent space.
“Before, we never really had a sense that this business exists as its own entity,” explains Wright. “It was on stilts.”
A two-year search finally led them to this spot on 22nd Street and Broadway, possibly one of the best blocks in Oakland for a brand new brick-and-mortar bakery to make a splash. The storefront, with a modest upstairs cafe space for morning quiche with coffee and post-dinner pie with Hammerling sparkling wine or a cocktail made with pie ingredient food waste, was an ideal fit.
“After being a destination business for three years, it was important for us to be close to transit,” says Raskin. “In just these few blocks, you can get the best pizza in Oakland, the best burgers in Oakland—plus, we’re surrounded by four friends with their own businesses. It’s a community.”
As we chat, I watch the steady progression of pies from kitchen to counter, the steady stream of pie lovers through the door. The pace never lets up and soon Raskin and Wright are needed back in the mix.
As they return behind the scenes of the busy bakery, they send out one last treat in a to-go box. “This is the Greek cauliflower and feta with preserved lemon and Calabrian chilis. It sounds a little weird but it’s a sleeper favorite,” Raskin confides slyly.
Biting into it later that day, housemade chimichurri smeared across its golden crust, I don’t just moan with pleasure, I roar—and this time, I don’t care who hears it.
// Edith’s Pie is open Wednesday through Saturday; 412 22nd St. (Oakland), edithspie.com.
Mike Raskin and Jeffrey Wright, co-owners of Edith's Pie.(Adahlia Cole)