The first time I sat down with Jaynelle St. Jean, founder of PieTisserie, on the Bay Area’s version of a hot day in July, the shop was just a long, empty space. We sat at a lone small table, discussing her infamous blackbottom walnut pie and a detailed potential store layout.
Seven months later, PieTisserie threw open its doors just steps away from Lake Merritt on Valentine’s Day weekend. While that marked the opening of the business’s permanent physical location, St. Jean’s pies had been selling for seven months, available to order online through PieTisserie’s website for pick up in-store as it started to come together into a finished product.
And a finished product it was. Walking into PieTisserie’s shop for the first time on Valentine’s Day was like waking up in a Pinterest addict’s dream.
“I was really concerned about being able to realize what I had in mind and that, once I did, the space wouldn’t function the way I thought it would,” St. Jean said. “It turned out awesome. I’ve never built any sort of space at all and so I’m really quite pleased, actually, with how the space works.”
PieTisserie offers nine original pies, in both whole and mini sizes, made fresh to order each morning and delivered straight from PieTisserie’s industrial kitchen in Hayward.
PieTisserie also offers mini-pie boxes and pies by the slice, which are tied with ribbon and sent off with a tiny card that includes all relevant information for getting in touch with PieTisserie, said employee Rebecca Dharmapalan. At PieTisserie, presentation is just as important as the taste of the pie itself.
“She really has a vision for this place,” Dharmapalan said. “I love pie, food and Jaynelle. She encompasses what it means to be a hot spot or small business in Oakland.”
Mika Ruiz, a longtime customer of St. Jean’s, arrived at the shop a few hours into the opening. She ordered a Meyer Lemon pie — her favorite — for her mother, and said she’s been ordering St. Jean’s pies ever since she sold them at NIDO Kitchen & Bar, a restaurant spot that advertises locally sourced Mexican food and drinks.
“I’ve been a fan of [St. Jean’s] for the last three years,” Ruiz said. “I love how PieTisserie has evolved into this, and I really like supporting local businesses.”
According to St. Jean, PieTisserie is a community effort that boasts many voluntary supporters who frequently help out behind the counter in addition to regular employees. PieTisserie’s fanbase has also grown and stayed loyal over the past four years, following St. Jean wherever she, and her pies, go.
“There are people who have come in saying, ‘Oh, I first had your pies at NIDO!’ or ‘I remember when you were on the lake!’” St Jean said. “All those people are here, but there are also a lot of new people here too, so it’s like making new friends.”
Not convinced that you should check out PieTisserie yet? In the future, St. Jean said customers can look forward to more seating options outside the shop where pie-lovers can sit down and enjoy themselves. PieTisserie’s services will also be expanding to catering, special events and weddings, with a few tastings already on the horizon.
Simply put, if you live in Oakland and haven’t checked out PieTisserie yet, you’re doing it wrong.
“It’s a delicious little hidden gem,” St. Jean said. “You’ll walk out with a pie and a smile on your face.”