words: Jennifer Burchett
image: courtesy Casey Johnson Photography via Pie Scout
At Garrison Commons, the small park in downtown Fort Smith, Arkansas, where bands perform, and movies play sits Pie Scout. Housed in a shiny, silver and turquoise food truck, this new business mixes one-part pie with two-parts fun to create an ultra-memorable family outing. On this day, the classic, teardrop trailer shines brightly in the spring sunshine while parents chat and children (most of whose faces show the remnants of Cookies & Cream Pie) dance in the bubbles from a machine provided by Pie Scout’s owners, Bo Rogers and Kaitlin Lashley, who are sisters.
It’s a business that brings people together for a good time and a good cause. Getting it just right was key, so Bo and Kaitlin, both of whom work other jobs, took the time to search for the perfect food truck. Once they discovered this little teardrop trailer on the Fourth of July, 2017, the rest, as they say, was history.
“The idea seemed to come to us quite organically,” says Bo. “Once we found the trailer, the design and style hit me instantly.”
Taking a look at their menu can be a daunting task, even for the most well-versed pie eater. After all, how can one really choose between Blueberry Crème and Peanut Butter? It’s a conundrum that every patron deals with in their own way, and many choose to simply go back for seconds. Of all the different flavors, from regular pie to pie pops, Coconut Cream is the current top seller.
Bo shared a bit about the Coconut Cream recipe, but not too much. “I created a recipe that includes a vanilla bean middle and a few secret touches.” Other than that, their recipes are top secret.
Customers are free to order pies by the slice or to purchase whole pies, though you may want to order ahead of time through their website, since it’s not uncommon for Pie Scout to sell out for the day, before closing time. In fact, it’s becoming the norm.
“Pies with a purpose,” is their motto. But even sweeter than their menu, which includes Pineapple Millionaire, Blueberry Crème, and S’more, is their commitment to helping local nonprofits.
“We wanted to create a business that gives everybody the ability to help,” says Bo. With Pie Scout, the sisters have done just that. Every three months, Bo and Kaitlin choose a nonprofit to whom they will donate a portion of proceeds, and place a sign outside the trailer, letting customers know which charity they’re helping.
The first and current recipient until the end of May is BOST, a nonprofit organization that offers services to individuals with developmental and related disabilities to help them remain active in the community. Currently, Pie Scout averages approximately $15 per operating day in proceeds that will be contributed to the nonprofit, according to Bo. However, due to the huge support of the customers, it’s not uncommon for patrons to leave a donation when they pay for their pie. Their next partner, starting in June, is HOPE Campus, which offers comprehensive help for the homeless.
The donations are just one way they contribute. To further develop a business that aligns with their values, Bo and Kaitlin hire individuals from diverse backgrounds.
“At Pie Scout,” Bo says, “we aim to be an inclusive workplace, with a focus on providing opportunities to individuals with intellectual or physical disabilities. We currently employ two individuals with disabilities.” According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, individuals with a disability have a higher rate of unemployment than individuals without a disability. Pie Scout is doing its part to remedy that statistic.
Due to how quickly the business is growing, Pie Scout is actively looking to expand into a bigger kitchen, where they bake all the pies before taking them to their food truck at Garrison Commons. As Bo says, “It’s a great problem to have!”
Bo and Kaitlin believe great things are on the horizon for Pie Scout, and that Fort Smith is just the beginning. The sisters, who each hold MBAs in addition to other master’s degrees, have their eyes set on expanding to Oklahoma City. “We have avid interest from multiple investors on expanding our footprint in various cities,” Bo says.
These sisters are eager to spread their love of pie and community to cities around the country while keeping the flagship Fort Smith branch alive and well.
Which takes us back to Pie Scout’s grand opening on March 10, 2018. There were local bands and dozens of families for a day of giant Jenga, live music, and all the pie you could ask for. It was a lovely day, the people were relaxed and their bellies full. It must have been heartwarming for Bo and Kaitlin to watch the crowd, to see their response, and to believe they could make a difference in our community. Those of us who’ve tasted their pies, and who’ve heard their story, are certainly glad they did.
Pie Scout is located at Garrison Commons, 913 Garrison Avenue, in downtown Fort Smith. The food truck is open four days a week: on Thursdays from 12-5pm, Fridays and Saturdays from 12-7pm, and Sundays from 12:30-4pm. To order in advance, visit piescout.com.