About Mama Jo's Pies & Sweets


Mama Jo's Story

Joann Glenn Harwell grew up just north of Abilene, TX on a 12-acre paradise adjoined by several pastures owned by her maternal grandparents. From an early age, she explored, fished, caught bullfrogs, rode horses, and developed a great appreciation for the outdoors. Her first job was selling tomatoes at a tomato stand in town, and with the money earned bought her first 10-speed bicycle that she kept well into her college years.

One of Joann’s favorite memories is visiting her paternal grandparents in Springfield, MO. There was a closeness between her and her Grandma Glenn, and part of that was a shared love of cooking and baking. Grandma’s hands fascinated Joann: so slender and feminine yet so strong; wrinkled, with arthritic fingers that were capable of shaping pie dough into works of art. 


Deep Roots Run in Vega

After a string of adventures and explorations, Joann moved to Vega, TX in 1983. She was one of a group of like-minded people that decided it would be a good idea to begin promoting Vega as having been on Old Route 66, and began working for the newly formed Oldham County Chamber of Commerce in 1995.

She formed many great friendships along the way, but the most memorable one was with Fran Houser, who owned the Adrian Cafe in the next town over from Vega. Together they realized how interest in Route 66 was growing.

While Fran was busy changing the name of the cafe to the now-famous MidPoint Cafe, Joann was going through a rough time of becoming a divorced mom of three young boys. Needing a second job, she asked Fran to hire her on as a waitress. Joann soon volunteered to make the pies because, after all, she had her grandma’s recipe and, after all, how difficult could it be?


Honoring the Heart of Baking

It was at the MidPoint Cafe that Joann developed the “Ugly Crust Pie” based on her grandma’s pie crust recipe. The name Ugly Crust was really a joke, since Joann liked to tell customers about how artistic her grandma had been with pie crust dough. Although hers were “ugly,” the recipe was the same and tasted just as good.

Funny things happen when a person is going through tumultuous times. Making pies brought a sense of calmness, a feeling as if Grandma’s gnarled hands were guiding and helping form the dough; not yet beautiful, but in a reassuring way that helped Joann understand that everything was going to work out.

It was through this the name “Ugly Crust Pies” was born, and Joann felt (and still feels to this day) that each pie made is a pie that comes forth through love.


"Everything Comes Full Circle."

The MidPoint Cafe sold in 2013. Joann’s children grew up and left home for college and beyond. Joann decided it was a good time to work a single job and finished out her working years at a local feedyard. She still loved to bake and continued to bake for co-workers, family, and friends through the years. She also returned to a first love of cycling, and still loves to cycle to this day.

After “retirement” in 2022, Joann returned to her love of baking in a big way. Purchasing the historic building at 922 Main Street in Vega and subsequently founding Mama Jo’s Pies seemed like a good way to get back to Route 66, give back to the wonderful community that helped her raise her sons, and to be “retired but active.” Everything comes full circle. Joann will become a grandma in 2023. 

She hopes to pass on her love of baking and inspire people to know that everything works out and life is actually pretty wonderful. 

Oh, and her hands?

Wrinkled, gnarly, a few age spots…and beautiful.

Mama Jo's Pies & Sweets
@ Wilson's Corner

At our bakery just outside of Amarillo on the historic Route 66, we specialize in homestyle pastries and pies just like grandma used to make. Mama Jo’s is the down-home destination for delectable desserts, pastries, coffee, gifts, and more.

922 E. Main Street

Vega, Texas 79092



Current Hours

Monday – Friday: 8AM to 4PM

Saturday: Closed

Sunday: Closed

We appreciate your understanding as we adjust our hours to best serve you.