2533 Seventh St. (near Parker Street), Berkeley
Open Thursday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through April 1; walk-in and pick-up service will continue on Saturdays only though April 22
Launched in the earliest months of the pandemic as an Oakland pop-up, Angela Pinkerton’s bakery business, Pie Society, swiftly developed a fervent following of folks obsessed with her pies. A West Berkeley storefront followed, and by last fall Pinkerton was also serving outdoor diners coffee and slices, at a set of tables just outside her spot on 2533 Seventh St. But despite her deep bench of passionate fans, Pinkerton will end Pie Society’s regular hours as of April 1. Wait, is this an April Fool’s prank executed early? It is not, Pinkerton confirmed to Nosh, and it’s a decision she’s comfortable and happy with, as “it’s time to call it a win and give myself time to relax,” she said.
Pinkerton announced the closure over Instagram late Monday night, and also sent an email to customers with the news. “I’ve decided to wind down business here at Pie Society over the next couple months,” she wrote. “March 2023 will be our last full month of operation at Berkeley HQ.”
After that, Pinkerton wrote, “we’ll remain open for walk in purchases and order pick ups on Saturdays ONLY, through 4.22.23.”
Pinkerton’s career includes stints at spots like New York fine dining destination Eleven Madison Park, where she won the James Beard Award’s outstanding pastry chef honors. As the pastry chef at San Francisco’s lauded Che Fico restaurant, she briefly led a bakery and diner called Theorita (named after her grandmother, who provided Pinkerton with some of her earliest baking memories), but the Berkeley bakery was Pinkerton’s first solo act.
Pie Society was launched in those early, comfort-driven, confusing — and for many chefs, supremely creative — days of the pandemic in the kitchen of since-shuttered Oakland restaurant Nido (now the home of Odin, a mezcaleria from Nido’s owners). Pinkerton had just moved to Oakland and, like so many folks in the service industry, suddenly found herself out of work. Baking pies — one of Pinkerton’s favorite pursuits — seemed like a solid way to maintain her sanity and generate a little bit of income.
“I had so much anxiety,” Pinkerton said, “sitting on the couch saying ‘what am I going to do?’ I’m a chef, and we don’t sit around much.”
Her buttery pies with traditional fillings (think peach or key lime) were an immediate hit, attracting long lines on pickup days at Nido and locations across SF. By the fall of 2020, Pinkerton had secured her own kitchen in West Berkeley, where she expanded her offerings and built a huge following for her “grandma-style” pies. Last fall, she even added a pie patio, where for the first time, folks could sit down, enjoy a slice and relax.
But Pinkerton, who has spent the entire pandemic building a business, never had the same luxury her customers did. “This last year has really been amazing,” she said. “We’re stronger than ever as a business and a brand.” But “while so many people say things like ‘I had a lot of time to assess my life during the pandemic,’ I was working.” And now, Pinkerton said, it’s her time to take a pause, a breath, and assess.
“There’s no crisis that’s happening for us,” Pinkerton emphasized regarding the closure. “We have a really great landlord, they’re very supportive. We have a really great team.” But Pie Society, she said, has accomplished what it was meant to do — “to bring people comfort and a little bit of joy during the pandemic” — and it’s time for her to do something else, she said.
So far, she isn’t sure what that something will be. After the business winds down in April, “I’m going to go to Ohio to visit my family for the first time in three years,” she said.
After that, she will continue to use the West Berkeley space, though she’ll no longer be the primary tenant. (“There’s another business that will come in, it’s very exciting, but I don’t have permission to say who it is,” she said.) “I’m gonna do some pop-ups and pickups for holidays,” Pinkerton said, which will be a relief to the Pie Society faithful. “I’m going to give myself some time to experiment,” as well.
But other than that, the world remains Pinkerton’s oyster, a place of endless possibilities and options for what do to next. “When I decide, I’ll be sure to let you know,” she said. “But right now, we’re on top of the world, in a sense. As a personal decision it feels good.”