Since its beginning 50 years ago, Lois the Pie Queen has been more than a restaurant. Lois created family in a public place. One could not help but feel it, because one became part of creating it. If one could minister to the soul with food, then Lois preached a thousand sermons with love she gave in silence. And if love’s a healer, then we were saved, so abundant was the spirit she gave. Lois fed our children. Lois fed our parents, our grandparents and us. We walked in the restaurant smiling; searching for the warmest face on earth; searching for the magic smile she so freely gave, even as she worked. Customers became family, and Lois became “Mom” to many of us. Lois the Pie Queen was and continues to be, a home away from home because of Lois’ spirit and love.
Lois, the eldest of nine children, learned to cook at an early age. her mother, Mathilda Cleveland, taught Lois how to make what would become her signature creation: fresh pies. She and her mother were often called upon by her father, Bishop E.E. Cleveland, to bake pies for fundraisers. After graduating from high school, Lois and her sister Bernice worked long hours for a catering company, often making 3,000 sandwiches a day.
Later with family support, Lois and her husband Roland, himself a cook in a San Francisco restaurant, opened their first restaurant on Sacramento Street in Berkeley, California. Due to the notoriety of her pies within the church community her husband named her, and the restaurant, “Lois the Pie Queen.” Lois' restaurant experienced tremendous success and was able to expand to a second location. The restaurant’s phenomenal reputation was built upon specialties like short-ribs, candied yams, cornbread muffins, black-eyed peas, chicken and waffles, peach cobbler, sweet potato pies, buttermilk biscuits, and even better grits than you could make at home. And after 22 years in business, Lois the Pie Queen moved to its present location, where it has been considered as a candidate for Historical Landmark designation.
The tradition of quality product and service that Lois started is carried on today by her son Chris Davis and his staff. Under his direction, Lois the Pie Queen’s family has grown to serve a new generation with “Food that Warms the Soul.”
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