A local pie purveyor that was named the best pie shop in Texas has found a new home. Bonafide Betties Pie Company, an independently owned shop that turns out a spectacular line of pies, will open in a former mechanic's shop at 109 E. Washington St. in Rockwall, right in the center of town.
Owner and baker Brittany Hardin, who's been working on the space — along with fielding fervent inquiries from eager customers — for a year, says she'd love to be open in time for the holidays.
"The building was last inhabited in the '50s, it's sat vacant for a long time," she says. "We're putting in plumbing, AC, we started from ground zero."
It'll be a small space, comprising 660 square feet, but big enough to sell her pies and bake them on-site.
"It's going to be super tiny and cozy which is my favorite," Hardin says. "I like old school and throwback. I'm not trying to be Sprinkles — we're a small operation."
Bonafide Betties began when Hardin started selling pies at farmers markets, and wanted to establish a more reliable presence. That came in 2016, when her mother Denise, who owned a furniture store, set aside a back corner of the store where Brittany could sell her pies.
The operation grew steadily until 2018, when their lives changed dramatically: The week before Thanksgiving, Bonafide Betties was named by USA Today as the best pie shop in all of Texas, part of a story about the best places for pie in each state.
Hardin had no idea she was even nominated.
"It was nuts — it blew up my world," she says. "We were a small shop in Rockwall open three days a week, and all of a sudden, we had lines out the door. It was just me and my mom baking pies — we only had four arms between us, scrambling to make it work."
She makes real crusts for her pies, with butter and Crisco. The crust is really the defining element of a pie (some shops cheat and use ground graham crackers or nuts). The classic buttermilk pie is the basis of a lot of her pies including her bestselling signature Hot Mess, a buttermilk pie topped with pecans, brown sugar, and coconut.
She rotates in other flavors depending on season and whim. It could be a chocolate buttermilk pie, or a stout buttermilk pie with bourbon and brown sugar. She incorporates seasonal fruits such as peaches, starring in a pie called Peachy Keen, a pie version of a peach cobbler with peaches in a cinnamon custard.
Eventually, her mother opened her own non-pie dessert shop and Hardin found this new space where she'll be able to consolidate her retail space with an on-site kitchen.
"My grandmother inspired me, and my mom showed us how to cook and bake," she says.
Meanwhile, her husband, a Dallas firefighter, has joined the Bonafide team, helping to keep the business afloat by doing pies to order for customers to pick up.
Part of Hardin's charm is her high-energy personality and drive. Her Facebook page is filled with enthusiasm and exclamation points, and never idle, she founded an event called Texas Pie Fest with her friend Melissa Tate, with a goal to spotlight local pie makers. The 2021 version was a smash, drawing more than a dozen bakers from across Dallas-Fort Worth who came and sold their pies, along with a car show and pie fights.
"People love pie," she says.