MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – If you were to ask anyone what the Upper Peninsula tastes like, the answer would be a pasty.
This culinary gift comes from the early Cornish miners who settled here generations ago. It’s called, by some, “Yooper soul food.” In Marquette, it has another name – Jean Kay’s.
Named after the owner, Brian Harsch’s mother, Jean Kay’s pasties have been a staple on the dining room tables and picnic baskets of locals and visitors alike for more than 40 years. But that is all about to change.
Harsch recently announced his retirement bringing an end to an era. The pasty ovens go cold on Dec. 31, 2022.
“Go out on top. We’re gonna go out on top and I thank the public for that,” Harsch said. “They are the ones that made Jean Kay’s.”
“When I announced my retirement, I thought that I pretty much explained that you have four months to come into Jean Kay’s and get pasties,” he added. “I had to shut down my internet because I just couldn’t handle the orders. I’m humbled. I really am. And I sure appreciate those people, but I need to be able to handle everything.”
He wanted to make sure he could fulfill all his online and holiday orders before closing as much of his business is online sales. Shipping pasties nationwide ensures that a taste of the UP is available across the country; however, Harsch credits the success of his business to his hard-working family and the continued support of the community. A community that loves pasties.
“I’m proud to be where I am today, and I’m proud of Marquette,” Harsch said. “I think we’ve come a long way and people can say what they want. I think Marquette is a jewel. I’ve always felt privileged to be able to grow my business here and to have the support of the people that live here. They are the most important thing,” said Harsch.
Whether you take your pasties with rutabaga or without, with gravy, or even the vegetarian option, Jean Kay’s can fill your order. If hard work and dedication to quality had a flavor, you can certainly taste it in every pasty that comes out of their ovens.
“That’s what I’ll walk away with walk away with the success of having a very successful business and now to be able to have a successful life,” continued Harsch.
We have four more months to enjoy Jean Kay’s unique cuisine. After that, this master of pasties will take a long deserved retirement, and finally have the time to stop and smell the pasties.
Harsch did want to make a note that the shop with the same name in Iron Mountain is not closing.