Little Rock, AR: The Man Who Made 100 Different Pies in One Night
Chris Monroe is a man with an obsession. That obsession is called Hunka Pie, and it's become the premiere pie stand in Little Rock, Arkansas. Usually you'll find anywhere from five to eight different pies on the menu. But a while back Chris came up with an unusual idea: he decided to bake 100 different pies in a single night for sale in a grand pie extravaganza the next day.
Thing is, Hunka Pie is a great place for a pie (and a burger, most days) to pick up and take with you. But it operates out of the former location of The Hop, a drive-in restaurant with no inside dining. Heck, there's barely enough room inside for Chris and his help.
Didn't matter. Chris got to baking around 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon and wrapped up his quest around 3 a.m. on Sunday. He managed to make every pie on his list—except one. The Lime Margarita didn't come out. No matter, he made Pineapple Custard instead.
So how do you go about storing 100 different pies (actually more—there were duplicates) in such a small space? They go everywhere. They go in boxes stacked high on one counter. They go in and on top of the pie case. They go on every available counter space. They go on the cooled griddle-top—no burgers today! They go wherever they fit—even if that means they go inside the canned drink cooler. You do what you have to do.
There were more than a dozen people when I arrived, nearly 15 minutes before the opening at noon, and Chris had decided to go ahead and open for business. Every parking spot was soon filled.
Taking photos inside the little shop required a bit of a dance, darting between Chris and his two assistants as they took each order. With so many pies I was shocked how efficient they were—and that they knew where every pie happened to be located.
So many pies... and so many customers. Close to 50 had been through by the time I got to the front counter with my list. Pie slices were $3.50 each, with a six-pack going for $20. The variety was extraordinary. I picked up a slice of the shop's favorite, the Velvet Lips Chocolate Cream, and one of my favorites, the Pear Ginger Pie. The other four I'd never tried before: Sugar (like a fluffy sugar cookie), Pumpkin Cream Cheese, Macadamia Nut (like a pecan pie but with macadamias instead) and Cherry Chipotle. This last one has to be the strangest cherry pie I have ever sampled; an almost savory cherry pie with deep peppery but only mildly spicy notes.
The event was scheduled to run from noon until 6 p.m., but by 4 p.m. the event was about six slices from completely selling out.
Will Chris try it again? It's too soon to tell. The poor guy seems like he's going to fall down, he's worked so hard. But as a publicity stunt, I think he aced it. Hunka Pie will be back open 11 a.m. through 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. If there's a pie on the list you want, contact the shop via Facebook and place your order.
About the author: Kat Robinson is a writer and storyteller out of Little Rock, AR who writes the Arkansas Times' Eat Arkansas blog and who explores Arkansas and the American South looking for great stories, interesting people and the next great meal—especially if it involves pie.