Review by: Michael Stern


Signature Dish of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Jean-Kay’s was started by the Harsch family in 1975 in Iron Mountain in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. As Jean Kay’s Sweet Shop, it made a specialty of donuts. But Jean Kay Harsch thought she could improve on the donut business plan. She decided they should make pasties. She remembered the way her grandmother used to make them back in the day. At that time, the region’s settlers considered them part of an everyday diet. So Jean Kay decided to make and sell Upper Peninsula pasties.

Jean-Kay’s Classic Pasties

Do you want to know what grandmother’s pasties were like? Visit Jean-Kay’s of Marquette. Jean Kay’s son, Brian, started it. Then he sold it. And not too long after that, he tasted pasties the new owners were making. In his opinion, they did not measure up. So Brian bought the business back and returned to making Upper Peninsula pasties the traditional way.

Traditional means that he makes them with steak (not burger meat) and suet (not lard). Although you can ask for rutabaga-free pasties, Brian explained that rutabagas belong in the filling. Jenny-come-lately bakers all too often ignore them. “It is an amazing vegetable,” he enthused. “Aside from its own flavor, it works with whatever else is in there to keep the moisture flowing. It is a conduit.”

Wherever You Are, You Can Taste the U.P.

Jean-Kay’s is a small storefront with a few tables inside and out. But the pasty-making part of the operation is big. Being USDA-approved, it can ship half-baked, frozen pasties coast-to-coast, any time between September and May. Available varieties include steak, veggie with cheese, and mini pasties that make wonderful hors d’oeuvre. In addition to pasties, the menu offers a full array of sub sandwiches, including the local favorite Italian sausage known as cudighi.

Pronunciation Guide

Note: Say pass-tee, not pay-stee.

What To Eat


Jalapeno Ketchup


Jean-Kay’s Recipes


What do you think of Jean-Kay’s?

2 Responses to “Jean-Kay’s”


February 5th, 2023

Sadly Jean Kays is permanently closed. The owner retired 12/31/2022



May 29th, 2021

A pasty WITHOUT rutabaga?
I’m surrounded by heathens,
perish the thought.


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