For me, nothing clears away the winter blahs of February than finally finding the time to seek out local gems that have long been written in my iNotes labeled “must try” or “to find” or “neighbor mentioned.” One of those special places has appeared on my list three times now: a note I made last summer “neighbor said best pies ever,” and another from Thanksgiving, “sweet friend of Maria’s named Adrian pre-ordered pies from here – check out!” That “best pies” place I keep hearing is Darden’s Delights.
This little family owned and operated pie shop comes with a twist – Darden’s Delights was named after the owner’s darling little girl Darden who is living with autism.
Smiles bloom across the owners’ faces when I ask them of Darden’s Delights unique beginnings. In 2009 at Peachtree Presbyterian Church, David and Betsy Glass’ daughter, Darden, age 4 at the time, participated in the Adaptive Learning Center program, which provides support for children with developmental disabilities to maximize their potential by learning and thriving along with their classmates. To support the annual Spring Fling fundraiser, Darden’s mom Betsy donated a few fudge pies. So when everyone started clamoring for more and talking about the best pies they’ve ever tasted, the purpose and passion came to life for the newly name Darden’s Delights, to harness the power of entrepreneurship for the benefit of individuals with developmental disabilities in the community.
With each pie purchase, a slice of the proceeds is used to support organizations that enhance the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities, some $20,000 to date. And, after hearing the story and tasting a few forks full, I’m a believer in Darden’s Dangerously Delicious Fudge Pie, The Smack ‘Yo Lips Lemon Chess and my neighbor’s favorite, Off the Chart Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie.
From the beginning, Darden’s Delights has strived to demonstrate that a belief in something bigger, creativity, consistency and long hours in the office or kitchen (combined with patience of course) can create opportunity and community membership for anyone, whatever the disability may be. “We hope others will identify with and embrace their perceived disadvantage as a distinct competitive advantage, whatever the interest or goal,” says the family.
“(The business) has become our third child. It takes a great deal of effort and time but is very rewarding. We really enjoy seeing it grow and the comments from others just add to the passion to grow it further,” said Betsy. “Besides being expert tasters and contributors, Darden, and her sister Anna may choose to become more involved as they get older. For now, and always, Darden gets to be herself, recognized as an important part of the family business in the local community.”