The Pie Queen, owned by Western Kentucky University alum Brie Golliher, bakes pies and cookies for Bowling Green and beyond.
While at WKU Golliher studied photojournalism and her husband studied graphic design. They both worked in the corporate world after graduating in 2006 and 2007. Then after starting a family in the early 2010s they wanted careers that were more flexible and enjoyable.
Together the two bought Boyce General Store so Golliher could pursue baking. It was built in 1869 and had been serving sandwiches since the 80s.
“We kind of got grandfathered into serving breakfast burgers and having to be a full on restaurant, Golliher said. “We had a fish fry, we started doing concerts, and it just kind of exploded into this crazy restaurant phenomenon that we weren’t expecting.”
Golliher got really wrapped up in the store and it wasn’t until covid hit that she took a step back.
“We just worked really, really hard and I missed a lot of my kids’ younger years,” Golliher said. “And so in 2020 when everything had to be refocused completely, and you had to decide what you're going to do with your life and what was making your life fuller. Because you're in the middle of a pandemic and nothing makes you think more about your life and where you are than that. We decided to refocus.”
The shift was back to just baking, and not restaurant owning. That October of 2020 she retired to just being a baker and purchased her Pie Wagon.
Golliher said the impact of stepping back into a career she loved and being able to spend more time with her family helped her mental health. “It has created a much better work environment, I think partially because baking is my therapy,” Golliher said. “It's very life-giving and I love to bake. If I had it my way I would just bake for everybody all day and just give it to them, I would never charge. That would be the dream that I could just drive the wagon up and just say hi to everybody. That is because I don't make it for the money. I make it for the joy of baking and the joy of feeding other people.”
To help own and operate the Boyce General Store, Golliher started sharing the space with The Cake Store. They make custom cakes, run the store front, and have kitchen space.
Golliher recognizes that it’s been a hurdle but she’s found a happy medium between family and work, she’s found a place where she’s happy with The Pie Queen business. Some of the ways she’s gotten to where she is now, she learned at WKU.
“I would say that being a photojournalist trained me to be a mom with late hours and long hours,” Golliher said. “And it definitely trained me to have a business in that you get what you put into it. Same with your degree, the same with anything. Things will succeed when you're working hard at it. And just always showing up whether you want to or not, I feel like that is the biggest hurdle for anybody in a small business world, if you have too many hard days in a row you give up. And I think that you can't give up. It's persistence.”
Golliher said this is one of the most important things to remember when starting a business. Part of how she stays connected to the community, aside from serving sweets, is through being a resource to other business owners.
“It's about continually showing up and doing it every day,” Golliher said. “I think a lot of people get discouraged. I try to be able to be available for anybody that wants to talk as far as opening a business and that kind of stuff and I think that a lot of times, they get really hung up on where I am compared to where they are. And they've just started. And I've put in 10 years. It's really the same as if you're starting as a freshman and you're looking at what people are producing their senior year, you're like you, they've already put in the work for it.”
Another way Golliher stays connected to the community, including WKU, is through the Pie Wagon. “Especially in the last year when Western started doing all the Local Restaurant Row stuff. And so many pies and cookies are in both the Pitstop and the P.O.D. store.”
According to the Local Restaurant Row tab on the WKU Restaurant Group website, “ Local restaurants are the cornerstone of our communities and we have worked over the past year to partner with restaurants and food trucks to bring you authentic, local flavors. This will bring our community to campus and offer a new, exciting way for students, faculty and staff to eat on the Hill!”
WKU sophomore Alex Grundy from Greenville KY bought a pie on Wednesday, September 7, and said part of what drew her to the wagon was the design. “I’ve been wanting to try one and I just ate at DSU and was wanting something sweet, so that’s why I got a pie,” Grundy said. “It looks really good, I’m excited to try it.”