Hyde’s Restaurant, a family-owned diner located at 130 S. Erie Highway in Hamilton, is counting down the days to its annual Thanksgiving pie-palooza on Wednesday, Nov. 22.
Amy Hyde-Klaiber, who owns the restaurant with her sister, Ashley Hyde-Tuley, said pie has always been part of the restaurant’s 77-year history. Their grandfather’s brother’s wife originally started baking pies and the recipe was passed down through the years.
“Prior to Covid we were really very much about fried chicken, beef and noodles, meatloaf and all those very home-cooked foods. Post-covid lots of people know about our pie,” Hyde-Klaiber said. “That’s our namesake.”
Hyde’s most popular pie is the Banana Cream featuring a banana base with vanilla filling topped with meringue, followed by their Pumpkin. During the holidays, the restaurant also has a Pumpkin Crumble pie featuring oatmeal streusel topping with caramel.
Thanksgiving pie-palooza at Hyde’s
The restaurant is expecting to sell between 600 and 800 pies during pie-palooza. Customers must pre-order pies online and pick a time for pickup. On the day before Thanksgiving, the restaurant will offer a drive-thru pie service under a tent in the back of their parking lot. Employees work around the clock to meet the demand. Sometimes the pies are made within the hour of pickup, Hyde-Klaiber said.
Hyde’s pre-order cutoff is typically the Monday prior to Thanksgiving, but sometimes they have to cutoff sooner and put customers on a waitlist due to capacity. At times the waitlist has been 10 pages long, but Hyde-Klaiber said they “really take a lot of pride in getting through that waiting list.”
“It’s our signature in a way of being apart of so many families,” Hyde-Klaiber said. “When people tell me it’s not Thanksgiving unless we have our pie, I take that as a really great compliment.”
On a typical day, Hyde’s sells around 20 to 25 pies. The restaurant also has a pie trailer they bring to Operation Pumpkin each year. In the future, they hope to bring the pie trailer to other events, but right now they don’t have the staff to do it.
Making pie is art
Making pies is a form of art, Hyde-Klaiber said. She credits her employees behind-the-scenes who not only make the pies, but care about the flavor of the pie, how it looks and the overall freshness. Some employees know their pies so well that all they have to do is take a look at the color or consistency to know how much longer it needs to bake.
I saw firsthand the artistry and consistency that goes into making a pie at Mehaffies Pies, located at 3013 Linden Ave. in Dayton. When I asked Brian Phillips, who owns the business with his wife, Melanie, if he could talk with me about pie season, he invited me in to see the hard work that goes into making a pie.
I arrived at the business at 6 a.m. on a Friday and before I even walked in the doors I could smell the freshly baked pie. At that time, they had already made 2,000 pies, with plans to make 1,300 more.
It all starts with one employee loading dough into a machine that cuts it into about a six-inch block. A second employee puts the block of dough into another machine that flattens it out for the crust. There are three other employees working together to complete the pie using a large machine from the 1980s that spins. The first person lays down the pie crust into a tin, while the second person scoops filling into it. The first person puts a mark into the dough that will become the top crust to identify the flavor and lays it on top of the filling. The third person completes the pie by removing access dough, adding a sprinkle of topping and removing it from the machine to a pan that will go into an oven.
Brian recalled his first Thanksgiving at Mehaffies Pies when he was preparing to take ownership in November 2021. He said he was “in awe,” which is the best way to describe how I felt.
While five employees were working on the bulk of the pie, other employees within the business were packaging pies, adding labels and loading them into vans to be delivered.
Mehaffies across the region
Besides the retail portion of Mehaffies Pies on Linden, customers can purchase Mehaffies Pies at over 30 other retailers across the region. The business also operates the Pie Peddler, a fundraiser for schools, organizations and athletic teams.
The bakery’s busiest time of the year is in November around Thanksgiving when Pie Peddler is ending and Thanksgiving is beginning. During November and December, the bakery makes about five times more pies than an average month, Brian said.
Customer favorites include the Dutch Apple and Chocolate as well as Pecan and Pumpkin around the holidays. Mehaffies encourages customers to pre-order their Thanksgiving pies by Friday, Nov. 17. If you don’t meet the deadline, the shop on Linden Avenue will have pies available leading up to Thanksgiving.
Pie makes people happy
When I asked both owners what keeps them going throughout their busiest time of the year, they said it’s their customers.
“I like the excitement of our customers’ face when they leave here because they’re happy,” Phillips said.
“There’s nothing better than a warm pie out of the oven — the smell, the look,” Hyde-Klaiber said. “It’s one of my favorite parts of my job to deliver a pie because that makes everybody happy.”