Nestled in Kirby Drive
Houston, Texas 3112
April 2004–In the mainstream culture of the greater Houston area, there are a select few streets near downtown which people flock to every weekend to party. There’s Westheimer, there’s Montrose, and then there’s Kirby. Of all the popular streets in Houston, those three are perhaps best known for their restaurants. I have traveled up and down all of these streets in search of a good, easy-going place to hang out and grab a snack. I finally found that place when, one day, while cruising down Kirby with the need for something sweet to eat, a sign leapt out at my sweet-tooth. The sign read “The House of Pies.”
Immediately, I turned the car around and sped back to the small building. I pulled into the parking lot only to discover that all of the parking spaces were filled! It blew my mind because it was nearly two in the morning. Not letting this discourage me from getting my slice of pie, I found an open space on one of the side streets. I noticed the outside of the restaurant was somewhat old and dirty. It looked like it was once someone’s house. The paint was a dirty yellow and pealing from the wood. Hurriedly, I walked up to the glass doors on the front of the building and entered the restaurant.
There was a line of people, maybe nine or more, waiting to be seated. A young lady in her mid twenties was standing behind this counter that appeared to be from the 1970s because of its color and a generally broken-down look it had. She waved me to her and asked, “Hi, have you been placed on the list yet?”
Never having had seen a list and not completely sure what she spoke of, I decided it best to respond with a “No.” She then asked me what my name was and what my party size was. Later, I found out that The House of Pies is a relatively well-know restaurant in Houston, and they have a waiting list because they are usually packed full of customers.
In an attempt to keep their customers satisfied during their wait, the restaurant owner had placed four chairs near the entrance. I’m assuming the chairs came with the counter, because they have tattered cushions and are covered with a vinyl of that 1970s stylish color… brown. Since there were only four chairs, everyone else had to stand near the entrance. A few were staring at the people sitting in the four chairs, waiting for them to move. I felt bad for the chairs. There was a continuous line of people rushing over to sit on them as someone got off of them. The chairs were small. And the ones who were usually motivated the most to get those chairs were the ones who didn’t enjoy standing too well… the fat people. The three teenagers who were waiting were hovered around an arcade game.
About ten minutes had past when my name was finally called. The owner of the restaurant was the person who called my name. He was well dressed, had gray hair, glasses, and was holding my menu… my brown menu. His face was covered by a huge smile the entire time he was walking me to my booth. When I sat down, I began to scan my surroundings.
The layout for the restaurant is two rows of booths on the outside and two rows of booths near the middle. The outside booths seat four people each. The inside booths seat only two each. Something I find strange about The House of Pies is the spacing between their booths. Unlike normal restaurants, they have put their booths rather close together. This might be uncomforting for some, but for most I believe it gives them a warmer feeling. It’s a warmer feeling because it brings people closer together and allows for an easier way to meet each other. Undoubtedly, there have been numerous relationships started at The House of Pies because the soothing colors, crowded closeness, and ketchup-smattered walls of this place seems to facilitate the perfect environment to practice pick-up lines.
I ordered my milk shake and food, then decided to listen to what people around me were saying to each other. I don’t usually pry into other people’s business, but the rich mix of people in this small place was incredible. Therefore, I had to see what kind of people came here. There were college students everywhere. One table appeared to be coordinating some sort of project, possibly for school. But what got my interest the most was the very old man sitting directly across from me. He was dressed in a very nice suit and had what appeared to be some very expensive shoes. With him was a very young, beautiful girl. They were obviously flirting with each other like a new couple would. After a few minutes of listening to their conversation, I came to the conclusion that he was probably a well respected Houston businessman out with his mistress for the night. Right next to someone holding a lot of Houston’s power in his pocket, the businessman, there sat a simple pizza delivery boy, me. That is something I found to be a bit unusual in a large city like Houston.
What stands out the most to me about this restaurant is the fact that it appears to be very old. Most of the businesses on Kirby have new buildings or at least keep their buildings up-to-date. The House of Pies looks like it was built in the early 1970s and hasn’t changed since. Its old style is more attractive to me because a new building feels very cold, dry, and desolate. Contrastingly, the various shades of brown, the mirrors on the walls, and the well worn in interior of The House of Pies gives its visitors that cozy feeling that is only felt in one’s home.
When I was looking at the menu, I saw that they offered more than just pies. The House of Pies turned out to be a restaurant with a wide range of foods and a vast selection of desserts. But as the name implies, their menu tends to revolve a bit more around pies than anything else. They offer something like 20 or more types of pies. I saw that they offered a Monte Cristo, which is one of my favorites. I ended up ordering the Monte Cristo, the milk shake, and a slice of pie. It was all extremely delicious and cost less than $12. Realizing I had pulled off the impossible (getting a complete meal with dessert for close to $10 in Houston) had made my day.
Scratching my head trying to figure out how I had missed out on such a key restaurant in Houston, I began to walk towards the counter to pay for the meal. The owner thanked me, then he directed a new customer, who had been waiting his ten minutes, towards the booth I had been sitting in. I walked out of the restaurant through the glass doors I had came in and down the side street for my car with a smile on my face. I now know about something that is unique to Houston, The House of Pies.