The result was such a success it led to a side business making beef jerky for friends and coworkers in Houston.
"At the end of three months, not a single day went by that someone didn't ask, 'Do you have any jerky?'" Pinkley said. "When I retired in 2005, I was selling $1,100 worth of jerky a week part-time."
Pinkley, the descendant of pioneer Eureka Springs stock, now makes 10 flavors of beef jerky and sells it over the counter at her business on North Main, Mary's Jerky.
"If I can get people to cross the deck and try a piece of my jerky, they buy it," she said.
Formerly Creekside Cafe, the take-out business has a deck and a gazebo overlooking Leatherwood Creek where it emerges from its under-street channel. People are welcome to bring a picnic lunch and sit in the gazebo, enjoying the shade and the sound of the water.
They can also sample the jerky, which Pinkley makes on site and sells in quarter-pound bags. It's a one-woman business. Pinkley does everything by hand, trimming and seasoning the meat, then drying it. Flavors range from smoky mild mesquite to chipotle and habanero. She'll also make jerky to order if it isn't hot enough.
"I control the heat," she said.
Pinkley grew up in Louisiana, but considers herself an "extreme local," both sides of her family having roots in Eureka Springs. Her mother, Suzanne, and father, Herbert, both went to Eureka Springs High School. A great-uncle, Herman Pinkley, built houses in Carroll County. An uncle, Kenneth Pinkley, is a retired Eureka Springs postman.
She and her siblings spent summers in Eureka Springs with her Pinkley grandparents, who had a dairy farm on Rock House Road, and her Harper grandparents, who lived on Iowa Street.
"We all came, all five of us kids," she said. "My mother would drop the girls at her parents' house and the boys at Dad's. Then after two weeks we switched."
Pinkley remembers her mother talking about "Aunt Cora," Cora Pinkley Call, whose cabin is on the grounds of the historical museum on Main Street.
"I'm an extreme local," she said.
Pinkley, who moved to Eureka Springs in March, worked for 21 years for Continental Airlines in Houston as a customer service representative. The job had perks -- she could travel all over the world -- but she hadn't seen the United States. So after she retired, she spent a year driving an 18-wheeler around the country. Driving a semi was easy, she said. Backing it was a nightmare until a woman driver told her the secret: steer to your problems. It's advice she applies to problems in other areas of life.
"Don't run away from them," she said.
This fall, she'll be adding turkey jerky to her menu, but only as a seasonal product in three flavors. Pinkley also started making chicken jerky for canine customers after a Holiday Island woman requested an alternative to snacks imported from Asia.
"I can't keep it on the shelf," she said.
Her regular products, which are almost fat-free, have also been selling well, Pinkley said, and a week ago, she inaugurated a website, www.marysjerky.com. She was relieved it wasn't too successful.
"I was afraid I would wake up and have 200 orders," she said.
Mary's Jerky is open Thursday through Monday at 57 N. Main. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday. For more information, go to marysjerky.com.