Jean Kay’s Pasties started in Iron Mountain (in the 1970s) and despite a few owner changes, the recipe has apparently stayed the same. I visited the one in Marquette first, as it was owned by the original creator, Brian (Jean Kay) Harsch.
While the one in Iron Mountain and Marquette have the same names, they had different owners, which I’m sure not many people knew. However, at the end of 2022, the Marquette location closed.
The Iron Mountain location was bought by the Andersons in 2018 and that’s still the case, as Tena served up my pasty. As the article in the Iron Mountain Daily News suggests, nothing has really changed at the shop, and that’s a good thing.
It’s a short walk off US-2 on the south side of Iron Mountain and from what I could tell, they have zero online footprint.
I visited early on a Friday and the shop was bustling with energy because unlike a lot of pasty shops, they open at 7 a.m. It’s a small shop that is made for pasties, so when you walk in, the pasty smell immediately takes you over. If you don’t know that smell, I’m sorry.
I waited to visit the Iron Mountain shop because I already rated the Marquette one, but that was probably a mistake.
The Andersons don’t care about promotion and I like that approach. They make pasties out of their small shop and that’s all that matters.
I thought this pasty would be exactly the same as the Marquette one, but it wasn’t. It was better, slightly. The recipes should technically be the same, but after it moved hands over 40-plus years, something inevitably changed.
The crust, while still a bit thin and hard to hold in your hand, was a bit thicker and I actually ate the first half of it while driving on US-2. My biggest issue was that the ratio was flirting on the edge of a passing grade. There were a lot of potatoes and rutabaga, and I had multiple bites with no meat. That’s a definite downgrade, but the quality of the steak stood out over a lot of ground beef pasties.
Despite there being a lot of potatoes, the steak tasted good and even one piece of steak per bite was enough. Jean Kay’s loves to say that they never changed their recipe, but I think having a thicker crust with a bit more taste would push them to another level. I’ll go back because of convenience and reliability, but they’ll never be one of my favorites due to the crust and lack of consistent meat.
Of course, I visited a few months later in the middle of winter and had a breakfast pasty. I love pasty places that are open year-round in the U.P.
Taste: 4 (out of 5)
Crust: 3.5 (out of 5)
Pasty Presentation: 3.5 (out of 5)
The Shop: 3 (out of 3)
Would I come back for Pasties?: 2 (out of 2)
Total Pasty Rating: 16 (of 20 points)
(Reviewed Fall 2022, Winter 2023)