It’s 8 p.m. on Saturday and the crowd is building up as tonight’s headliner, the Glenmont Popes, set up before taking the stage.
People pass around drinks, go outside for their last cigarette before the show, and step up to the bar to order. But it’s not alcohol these customers are ordering.
Dangerously Delicious Pies serves classic sweets like blueberry and key lime pie, and savory pork barbeque and spicy chicken cilantro. However, tonight’s real treat is founder Rodney Henry, singer and guitarist for the Glenmont Popes, as well as founder of Dangerously Delicious.
“It’s pretty badass,” said Andrew Hasse, a Baltimore resident who comes into Dangerously Delicious Pies on the rare occurrences that Henry is here playing with his band. “He’s killing it, pie-style.”
Henry owned the pie shop until January 2012, when husband and wife John and Mary Wartman became the owners. Mary was burnt out from 24 years of teaching and, as a friend of Henry’s, noticed that the Canton shop was getting neglected. The couple had no business experience when they bought Dangerously Delecious, but has since turned it into a successful shop that still maintains the rock n’ roll culture it was founded on.
The Wartmans have also made the shop more family run: their children work in the shop and Mary’s brother, Jay Martian, is a manager. Though they work behind the counter, the family feel is evident throughout the whole shop. Everyone from music lovers to families to mobile workers can easily find a home at Dangerously Delicious Pies.
“It’s very eclectic. That’s what makes it special,” Mary Wartman said.
Head baker Lazlo Lee describes the culture as “laid back and local. We treat anybody like a friend when they come through the door.”
Lee was also a good friend of Henry’s before Henry asked Lee to work at Dangerously Delicious Pies. Like many of Henry’s friends, he and Lee met through their bands. Of all the employees, Lee most epitomizes the shop’s rock n’ roll style. Decked out in a leather jacket and tight jeans, he’s here for the Glenmont Popes, but nonchalantly hops into the kitchen when things get busy. He is a prime example of who Henry looks to hire.
“I want to meet people who are dedicated to making a decent living as musicians,” Henry said.
Henry is only in Baltimore every couple of months, but always plays at Dangerously Delicious Pies when he’s back. It’s clear that pie and music are what he does best, alternating from roles as rock star and pie man so efficiently that they simply blend together. The concept for the shop was a no-brainer for Henry.
“It came from desperation. I always came back off the road broke, so I started taking pies to sell at shows,” Henry said.
The pies ended up making more money for Henry than touring did, so he turned it into a business.
“I’ll never forget my first pie experience. It was French apple pie and a coke,” said Henry. “I try to set up the store in the same way to give other people that experience: first you order your pie, and grab a coke from the fridge.”
True to his words, Dangerously Delicious Pies sells the vintage glass bottle cokes that Henry first enjoyed pie with.
Before he takes the stage with the band, Henry works the room. He’s been featured on the Food Network multiple times and has a book coming out this fall, but there’s nothing pretentious about him. If music and pie are Henry’s first two loves, people are his third. He greets many customers on a first-name basis and with a hug.
“The best thing about Baltimore is the people. It’s a cool town, blue collar, it’s quirky, you know?” said Henry.
One of the customers he greets is Chris Serio, a born-and-raised Baltimorian who has known Henry since 1999. Like many others who are here tonight, he always visits Dangerously Delicious Pies when the Glenmont Popes are in town. He orders his usual, chocolate cream pie, but says it’s the people he loves most here.
“The people are friendly. No one looks down on me here,” he said. “Pleasant would be the word.”
A few tables over, Ryan and Theresa Spencer are pouring Bloody Marys when their pie slices arrive. Ryan bites into The Polka, a savory pie made of kielbasa, sauerkraut and potatoes that seems to be a crowd favorite. The delicious pies are what keeps people like the Spencers coming back.
“There’s never a bad pie here,” said Ryan. “The food is the first reason, and the atmosphere is the second.”
“It’s an excellent Sunday morning from a Saturday night hangover,” Theresa said.
Hungry customers have plenty of pies to choose from, but the shop’s most popular is a berger cookie explosion called the “Baltimore Bomb.” It draws in regulars and visitors from all over the country alike, but you won’t find Henry chowing down on it regularly. Apple is his favorite.
“If you can make a good apple pie, it’s a sign you’re alright,” said Henry.