RICHLAND, Miss. (WJTV)- It is Friday and Walt Grayson is back with another story.
There is the old saying about building a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door. But the fellow you have for us isn’t making mousetraps but something a lot better.
And to get to his door you have to brave the construction on Highway 49 in Richland. But the treatment you get once you get there is incentive enough that his business hasn’t slowed down a bit.
Driving south through Richland on highway 49 right now it’s a sea of slow-moving traffic and orange barrels. But Tom Cook has hit on the perfect product to make people dare to cut from the traffic and into his parking lot.
Tom Cook/Tom’s Fried Pies: They tease with me- Tom you’re just like a cocaine dealer. We come in and eat a pie and we’ve got to come back and get some more.
Walt: Tom’s Fried Pies. That’s what they’re craving. The fried pies have a double attraction for Tom, as well as anyone else who’s mother or grandmother made them when they were kids- the taste and the instant flood of memories that taste unlocks. Lots of people love the flavor of the memories as much as the taste of the pie.
Tom: And I think a part of that, Walt, is because when you’re growing up they remember what they taste is when they were kids. I’ve seen a man standing there with tears in his eyes.
Walt: Tom’s mother made them when he was a kid for Tom and his dozen brothers and sisters. Then much later, about the age when most folks would like to retire, Tom opened his fried pie restaurant. And as far as I know, this is the ONLY exclusive fried pie restaurant in the state. Tom’s daughter Vickie runs the business now. Her dad is I guess you could call it, more or less in public relations.
Vickie Chapman/Tom’s Fried Pies: He is our customer liaison. We have him take care of our customers- play come checkers.
Walt: Vickie says she never doubted her dad and mom could make a go of a fried pie place. Over the years they’ve picked up quite a following of regular customers- including a bunch who stop as they are passing through.
Vickie: We have a lot of people that travel through on vacation every year and they always stop and we get to just chat- update for the year.
Walt: Fried pies- well, since you can’t go back to grandma’s or great grandma’s to get her fried pies anymore, lots of people just come to Richland to Tom’s- in spite of the orange barrels.
Tripping has rated the 10 best places to get apple pie in America, and Tom’s Fried Pies in Richland consistently comes right in the middle of that list.