Lois the Pie Queen
on January 1, 2019
At Lois the Pie Queen, eight tables are occupied on an early Monday morning. Nearly every table being serviced is occupied by a group of two. No one has a phone in hand—people come here to chat. Sure, they’re here for the pie and the breakfast, but mostly for the ambience.
This is a diner that feels like walking into a grandmother’s kitchen on a warm, sunny spring afternoon. There’s always hot coffee, music playing in the background, and chatter coming from people at the tables. The waitress knows her customers. She sits down at tables that have a “Reserved” sign on them. At 10:45 am, only regular customers have reserved tables.
The front door is painted white, but it’s a heavy wooden door that bangs loudly if you let it swing behind you. The windows surrounding the door are full of posters, including a framed newspaper clipping from 1999. In the article, Lois the Pie Queen is featured for celebrating 50 years in Oakland. “It’s the people, not the pie” reads the SF Examiner headline.
The wall facing the main entrance is hard to miss. Row upon row of framed photographs line it from top to bottom, even spilling over to a neighboring wall. The photographs are of notable people who have visited the pie place over the years, such as Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and actress Zendaya. Most photos seem to include Lois’ son, Chris, who took over ownership of the place after Lois passed away.
The rest of the walls are each a different pastel color—lilac purple, green, yellow, white—and a green ceiling. Opposite the wall with the photo museum is a row of four canvas portraits of jazz and blues artists. Next to that is the lilac wall, with hanging merchandise and a door to the restroom.
pies—Lois’ claim to fame. They sit on display near the middle of the restaurant
inside a narrow refrigerator with glass walls. Each shelf inside the fridge is
lit up to showcase them: mixed berry, key lime, raspberry key lime. The sweet
potato pie is a buttery slice of sweetness with three dollops of whipped cream.
This is a pie palace, but on this morning it seems I’m the only one eating pie. The menu also includes pork chops, salads and short ribs, but from the looks of it, everyone but me is here for the breakfast and lively conversations. It’s the people, not the pie.
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