Emma Polen | staff writer
Five years ago, there was nowhere to buy a homemade peach cobbler in Pittsburgh. Now, thanks to Terina Hicks, owner of CobblerWorld, you can purchase your very own cobbler along with her homemade cheesecake, gobbs and pound cake.
This past week, I had the opportunity to stop by CobblerWorld’s storefront located at 1059 Penn Avenue. I was surprised to discover that at the moment, Hicks is the business’s sole operator, designer and baker.
Hicks greeted me at the door and made me feel welcome right away. The inside of the space is painted a bright orange which immediately put me in a good mood.
Hicks sells a number of dessert items on her menu, but she recommended to me her bestseller and family recipe: Mamie Lou’s Peach Cobbler.
Terina Hicks comes from a family of nine and was born and raised in Pittsburgh. She recalls that she started off baking when her mom taught her how to make her favorite peach cobbler at the age of fourteen.
With CobblerWorld, Hicks says she hopes “[to] continue on the legacy of what my mom taught me.”
Her Mamie Lou’s Peach Cobbler serves as a way to honor her mom and her family’s annual holiday cobbler tradition.
Family was not the only inspiration for Hicks’ business: seven years ago, Hicks lost her job.
From that moment on, she knew she did not want to work for anybody else.
Hicks started CobblerWorld by bootstrapping, which means she created her business from the ground up with nothing but her own personal funds.
In fact, Hicks largely relied on herself for the majority of her business-building process.
She created the CobblerWorld logo, and is currently the only employee at the store. She is now looking for a partner to help her at the storefront during her store hours of 11-2 Tuesday through Friday.
CobblerWorld was also largely influenced by faith. The very name, CobblerWorld, came to Hicks in a moment she can only describe as spiritual.
Faith was a big reason for her initial motivation to start her own business, and Hicks said she is proud of how far she has come because of it. One of the first things a customer sees when they enter her shop is a sign that reads, “The perfect day is a little bit of coffee and a whole lot of Jesus.”
While being busy as the only person managing CobblerWorld right now, Hicks still believes “there’s not a day that goes by where I think ‘I quit.’”
Being a Pittsburgher herself, Hicks understands not all locals truly know what a cobbler is.
According to Hicks, cobblers differ from pie, or any other baked fruit confection by the layers of crust. A cobbler has three crusts: a bottom, a middle (which resembles dumpling dough), and the top crust.
A key difference Hicks sees between a cobbler and a pie is the texture of a cobbler’s crust. It is a lot “breadier” than pie crust.
I was able to enjoy Mamie Lou’s Peach Cobbler in what Hicks and I both agree is the “right way” to consume any cobbler: heated up with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
The homemade cobbler was not as chunky as I was expecting, but it was actually a great texture with the perfect balance of sweet and tart.
CobblerWorld fills the gap for homemade cobbler in the Burgh. It offers something for both those who already love cobbler and those trying it for the first time.
Dessert enthusiasts might not all be fans of cooked fruit, which is the major component of cobbler. However, Hicks explains that her menu items are unique and made for everyone’s taste.
Hicks’ cheesecakes are an example of how she creates her menu to be as inclusive as possible. In addition to traditional flavors, she has flavors like Chocolate Mousse and Cherry Blossom. Hicks calls these flavors, “cheesecake for the people who don’t even like cheesecake.”
To add icing to the cake, Hicks is a Duquesne alumni herself. She has some helpful advice for any Duquesne students hoping to one day start their own business: “First, do your research. See if there’s a void for what you want to do.”
After hours of her own research, Hicks discovered that in Pittsburgh, “There’s nobody making cobblers.” In addition to that “void” factor, Hicks also stepped up with unique cheesecake flavors, adorable little round-shaped poundcakes, and mini portion sizes that are not found at many other bakeries around the city.
Other bakeries allow customers to purchase a slice of a pie or cake, but Hicks bakes her confections into small, individual desserts.
This personable way of serving her baked goods was something that I appreciated in the cobbler I tried. I loved that I could have an edge piece, a middle piece, or both at the same time with my very own mini peach cobbler.
Another helpful tip Hicks has for those who want to get into the food business is to “find inspiration from everywhere.”
Inspiration for CobblerWorld’s peach mango cobbler came from a drink Hicks saw while shopping at Giant Eagle. She went home and experimented with the two flavors, and she thought it worked really well together.
Hicks hopes that her small business will one day reach an international audience. She is already working toward her goal by expanding beyond her Penn Avenue storefront.
“It takes a village to build a business,” Hicks said.
Just this week, Hicks started a new partnership with Klavon’s Ice Cream Parlor. In addition, her cobblers are already being sold at three grocery stores in the Pittsburgh area.
Love for her city and passion for family tradition are evident in the work Hicks does with CobblerWorld. At the end of each week, all of CobblerWorld’s perishable bakery items are donated to Food Pittsburgh 412.
You can support this local black-owned business by following @CobblerWorld on Twitter, Instagram, Tiktok, and Snapchat, or @CobblerWorldllc on Facebook. And don’t forget to visit Terina Hicks at her Penn Avenue storefront.