RED OAK — Pie is a passion for Cicily “CeCe” Pettigrew – one of which she proudly upholds as a “baking legacy” at Uncle Willie’s Pies.
Twenty years ago, the bakeshop and catering business began in her family’s kitchen with her father, uncle and upward of 40 nieces and nephews. But, Willie Pettigrew soon turned the dream into a unique business located off of Methodist Street.
“My dad was a barbecue caterer that would make these little pecan pies,” began Pettigrew, owner of Uncle Willie’s Pies. “Well, he met this restaurant owner who asked, ‘Where’d you get these pies from?’ And my dad was like, ‘What do you mean? I made these.’”
“So they struck a deal and my dad delivered 50 mini pecan pies that next Friday and overnight he was calling back saying, ‘Hey, we need more pies.’ So that’s how it all started."
As time passed, the catering business flourished by word of mouth into a successful brick-and-mortar establishment. When Pettigrew’s father decided to retire, he gave his daughter two options: either he would sell the business or pass the baking sheets to her.
“Of course I grew up where this was my summer job, and every day I went, and I learned the ropes and how to cook. But you couldn’t tell me I was going to be a professional caterer,” Pettigrew expressed. “My plan was to be an Art Major and do graphic design.”
While attending art school at the University of North Texas, Pettigrew's career focus shifted toward her love for art and combined it with catering.
“So my dad was trying to retire on me, and I was like, ‘What are you doing? We have a legacy here,’” Pettigrew laughed. “Because we still have customers that order from us since day one and I didn’t want to give that up.”
“So I had this bright idea, from event experiences I had at school, and I learned the catering side of it and how you can make money by catering. So I said, ‘Well, let's open a store and do catering, So we do it all under one roof.”
Currently serving Ellis County and Dallas-Fort Worth, the bakeshop has become a familiar brand of “southernly sweet,” home cooked goodness that has been featured in Dallas' A-List, D Weddings, The Dallas Morning News and Wedding Wire’s Couples-Choice Five-Star Awards in both 2014 and 2017
“Our services went from basic desserts to complete service where we offer everything from china [dinnerware] to customized menus and dessert table spreads,” Pettigrew articulated.
Among the wedding cakes, wholesale treats, and event catering, Pettigrew also mentions that the bakeshop encourages family nights through their once a week “dinner to-go” option.
“We do a Wednesday night dinner to-go, and that came from one of our regulars who ordered catering all the time,” Pettigrew explained. “One of our customers lives right down the street and she said, ‘I want food where I don’t have to order like catering. Can I get that during the week? Just think about it.’”
“So we thought about it and we do dinner to-go and it’s a home styled meal with an entree, two sides, bread, and you pick a dessert from the case – all for $9.99. All you have to do is find something to drink and go eat. It’s a wholesome, balanced meal with meat and veggies, and it’s perfect for families.”
Serving over 25 families weekly, Pettigrew is no stranger to the community, making it a base of their business.
From hosting community events that include annual pie-eating contests for various celebrations to helping homeless veterans and donating to cancer patients within the community, the catering company is looking to expand their reach all over Ellis County.
“We would like to build our clientele more in Ellis County, because a lot of our clientele is in Dallas and Fort Wroth, so I would love to have more of a presence here,” Pettigrew said.
As far as future plans go, Pettigrew will continue what her father started with hopes of writing a book about his life and growing the business.
“I’m actually working on a book about his life and his adventures. People would be amazed because his life is centered around food, and all of his stories, from childhood to being in the Navy all had something to do with food,” Pettigrew chuckled.
“As for Uncle Willie’s Pies, we put 110 percent into each project we’re working on and we treat each customer as if they were family. We have a huge heart and everything we do is with love and our philosophy is to be ‘southernly sweet in everything we do,’” she finished with a smile.
To connect with Uncle Willie’s Pies, visit unclewilliespies.com, or call (972)-576-5582.
Chelsea Groomer, @ChelseaGroomer