The holidays conjure many mental images — a large turkey on the table, for instance, or your grandmother’s beloved sweet-potato casserole. But when it comes to Thanksgiving, Christmas, and all of the social events in between, there’s one menu item that can’t be missed — pie. Whether pumpkin, or pecan, or apple, or cherry, pies complete the feast.
But if you’re up to your eyeballs in side dishes and haven’t the time to commit to making pies, you’ve got an escape capsule: Happy Tart in Del Ray.
The bakery — and its sister location in Falls Church — does a booming business over the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas, owner and executive chef Emma Cech says.
“It’s crazy!” Cech said. “Our sales probably double during the holidays, especially for Thanksgiving; we do lots and lots and lots and lots of pies.”
And customers find themselves in the holiday spirit with a few favorites, one of which is a pumpkin praline pie.
The pumpkin praline is “the pie for those who can’t decide,” Cech said. “It’s pumpkin pie on the bottom layered with a pecan pie on the top.”
But Happy Tart doesn’t stop its business at Thanksgiving. The Christmas season also brings with it an abundance of orders, and Cech stands at the ready with a passel of holiday favorites, from stollen to buche de Noel to a multitude of Christmas cookies to gluten-free gingerbread-house kits.
Once the holidays have subsided, Happy Tart’s Del Ray location will shut its doors for several months for a makeover, changing its face from a retail store to a café with several dozen seats. If all goes as planned, the bakery will reopen in April and will resemble the Falls Church location in terms of setup.
But first, Cech and her team must work their way through the holidays. The deadline for Thanksgiving orders expired last Sunday, “but we always make extras,” Cech said, to sell in the store up to the holiday.
Although Cech says “it’s nice to put your feet up on Thanksgiving Day” and take a break from pie-making, in terms of her own Thanksgiving feast this year, there’s no rest for the weary. Cech will have 14 to 18 family guests of her own for the holiday, she said. But at least she’ll have plenty of pie. The flavor of the day?
“Whatever we’ve got left!” she laughed.
Hope Nelson owns and operates the Kitchen Recessionista blog, located at www.kitchenrecessionista.com. Email her any time at email@example.com.
If You Go:
Happy Tart, 2307A Mount Vernon Ave.
Hours: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.
Try This: The apple sour cream pie, created with local apples, is a Thanksgiving top seller. “Once the gold rush apples come into season, that’s the only apple we use,” owner Emma Cech says. “We bake those in a sour cream custard ... and then top it with a streusel. It’s just the most delicious pie ever.”