Come Back, Peggy Jean!
Once upon a pie, Peggy Jean’s Pies was the go-to dessert destination in Columbia. From peanut butter delicacies to savory fruit creations, the restaurant and its homemade pies received national recognition in a variety of media outlets, including Southern Living, Midwest Living and Victoria magazines. Peggy Jean’s was a CoMo culinary institution that began in 1994, built from the family recipes of co-founders Jeanne Wagster and Peggy Day.
In 2006, after almost a decade of success here in Columbia, Peg and Jeanne decided to close their doors on Chapel Hill, stop the business and move forward in their lives. The dust settled, and the families of the famous pie makers enjoyed a few pie-frenzy-free Thanksgivings before an idea took hold. Jeanne wanted to reopen the shop, an idea she often shared with her daughter Rebecca Miller. Then, everything started falling into place a few months ago.
“It all happened about four weeks ago,” Miller recalled in October. “I don’t really believe in coincidences, and things just kept happening. We said we would be open to the idea if we found the right space at the right price, and we did. Now, it’s just a matter of funding — so, I made the Kickstarter.”
Miller completed the time-consuming process of launching a Kickstarter campaign on Oct. 5, setting a goal of $10,000. The mother-daughter duo hoped that Peggy Jean’s Pies’ previous success and fans in Columbia would get them the biggest piece of that funding pie. They offered contests, hosted fundraisers and recorded the entire process in a blog in the hope of raising the required $10,000. It was all or nothing — they had to raise 100 percent of their goal, or they wouldn’t get a cent.
They made it with change to spare, raising a total of $10,246. The duo recently opened Peggy Jean’s Pies at 3601 Buttonwood Drive, just in time for the holidays.
“We think people who remember Peggy Jean’s will be elated to find us again,” Miller says. “New customers will be absolutely excited to be a part of our journey. We plan to use the blog, Facebook, Twitter, word-of-mouth, advertising and anything else we can think of without being creepy or annoying to get the word out that we’re back!”
Although the new shop features a modern interior and a simplified menu, the heart of Peggy Jean’s Pies and co-founder Peggy Day’s dream for a pie shop remains. Day died in 2005.
“Peggy is honored in the very core concept of our return to the marketplace,” Miller says. “She would be so proud of us. She taught both of us to be strong and independent women who follow our dreams, and this adventure would thrill her.”
The Pie Lovers Have Spoken
Rebecca Miller recorded her and her mother’s journey to resurrect Peggy Jean’s Pies on an informal blog, but readers were asked a very serious question: Which pies should be featured on the pie shop’s re-opening day? Voters were asked to rank their first, second and third choices from: apple, cherry, chocolate bourbon pecan, pumpkin, key lime, pecan, peach praline, lemon, chocolate and coconut. Chocolate bourbon pecan was the overall favorite.