Marek Warszawski

It’s a pie-gone era. Marie Callender’s closure rocks Fresno to its warm, gooey core

I don’t recall this sort of brouhaha when Bakers Square bit the dust.

Marie Callender’s, on the other hand, is a name that elicits strong fillings … er, feelings from the people of Fresno.

That became clear Monday when the chain restaurant practically synonymous with pies shuttered both its Fresno locations. Judging by the number of folks reading the story on – yes, my bosses pay attention to those things – one might’ve thought an alien spaceship carrying cherry pies just landed in Woodward Park.

Fresno’s affinity for chain restaurants is well-plowed column material. It’s big news any time a Steak ’n Shake closes or Huckleberry’s opens.

But the demise of Marie Callender’s stirs up something in the warm, gooey center of our existence. Even though it may have been years since you went to one, there was comfort in the knowledge you could always stop in for a slice of lemon meringue with absolute certainty neither the taste nor the decor had changed.


It’s a pie-gone era, no doubt.

Now the unfortunate souls among us without access to homemade pies (always the best kind) must adapt to a strange, new post-Marie’s existence. Nothing about this process will be easy. We’ll need each other’s help.

My advice would be to take a deep breath and remember Fresno has several locally owned bakeries that sell tasty pies. We even have a food truck, Summertime Pies, dedicated to the art. (Pro tip: Try the coconut cream.)

As a last resort, you can find a fairly decent pie in the bakery section of most supermarkets. Which is probably why people stopped going to Marie Callender’s.

The best pie I’ve ever eaten was served up at the Silver City Mountain Resort in Sequoia National Park. So good, it’s worth the long, winding, bumpy drive on Mineral King Road past Three Rivers.

After the Marie Callender’s news broke, I called the Silver City resort to make sure they were still making their apple, peach, pecan, strawberry, blackberry, razzle dazzle, chocolate walnut and rhubarb pies from scratch.

Great news: They are.

“We’re kind of famous for them,” operations manager Hannah Parsons said.

Even more so now, hopefully.

While there’s no question the Marie Callender’s closure knocked many Fresnans off their comfort food moorings, I don’t think this qualifies as a true culinary emergency.

Imagine what would happen if Fresno State stopped growing sweet corn or Mike’s Grill stopped using garlic bread on their tri-tip sandwiches. Then we’d have real issues.

Marek Warszawski writes opinion columns on news, politics, sports and quality of life issues for The Fresno Bee, where he has worked since 1998. He is a Bay Area native, a UC Davis graduate and lifelong Sierra frolicker. He welcomes discourse with readers but does not suffer fools nor trolls.