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Think about your earliest memory of a kitchen. Do you remember the smells, maybe vanilla, cinnamon or apples? Those memories, or, rather, the warm fuzzy feelings associated with them, are exactly what The Pie King wants you to feel when you eat one of his pies.

South Carolina native Toby Simmons, owner of The Pie King, has had a knack for creating delicious, all-natural pies since the age of 13. A member of Simmons’ church owned a farm and would provide the family with vegetables on a weekly basis, providing Toby the perfect pie ingredient, sweet potatoes. By the time he was 19, he had perfected his pies, including his signature flaky crust – and his brother suggested he turn his delicious creations into a business.

Almost a decade of hard work later, The Pie King offers 30 unique pie flavors – including six variations of the sweet potato pie that started it all. A labor of love, this “kryptonite crust” bakes all the way on the bottom no matter what type of pie filling it holds. Soggy bottoms are a thing of the past, and crisp crust keeps people coming back for more.

Always one to let his product do the talking, the name “The Pie King” was a suggestion from a pie lover.

While participating in a pie and book event, one of the writers told Simmons that his sign, which read “The Pie Man” was “wrong.“ Instead, the writer suggested Simmons become “The Pie King,” because he made the best apple, cranberry and walnut pie she ever tasted. The rest is history, and Simmons and his crew have been on a mission to inspire similar feelings across Council Bluffs and Omaha ever since.

In addition to custom orders, which can be placed on The Pie King’s website, Simmons has signed on to sell his fully cooked, frozen pies in the Fareway Market in Council Bluffs. Just thaw and eat. Eventually, he plans to open up The Pie King Cafe where you can get your pie fix whenever you want, while also creating jobs for the community and using proceeds to support organizations like Veteran Sisters.

In the meantime, Simmons appreciates the support and positive partnership of Kitchen Council and the community, leveraging this connection to increase production and work out the kinks in his business.

Case in point: Testing his product in the market was of the utmost importance, and Simmons says Kitchen Council provides the support, space and expertise to test ideas and pivot when necessary. “They really look out for your best interest and why you are building.”

The Pie King is all about community, a concept as American as apple pie (pun intended). Thanks to local, real ingredients, Toby hopes to bring people together over something everyone has loved for decades: baking a pie and eating it as family and friends. It’s your grandmother’s pie in half the time. And that slice of nostalgia is something everyone should get behind.

Written by Ashley Rae Turner. Photos by Ashley Rae Turner and Kitchen Council.