Mix together hard work and tradition, some spices, rutabagas and some other local fresh ingredients; bake them in a delicious crust and you’ve got a Dobber’s Pasty. Originally called the “Red Onion Pasty Shop” and located in Negaunee, MI in the 1960’s, Dobber’s Pasties has been serving up their version of the staple of Upper Peninsula culture and cuisine for generations.
Brad Mantela, owner since 2008, and the third generation of his family to serve the Yooper delicacy, has brought the business into today’s competitive age. He introduced their website, revamped their facility to become USDA compliant as well as modernized the production process with new equipment. As one of the only USDA certified pasty production facilities in the Upper Peninsula, Dobber’s is able to ship their pasties to all 50 states and make products for wholesale and fundraising activities. The USDA certification was a very important step for Brad and his staff, it required them to change the layout, material, and equipment and have a federal USDA inspector in the facility every day they are in production. The hardworking employees at Dobber’s produce 10,000 pasties a week.
Brad knows that Dobber’s is truly something special, after all he and his wife Josie elected to carry on the family tradition in 2008 after the passing of his mother, Bonnie. She and his father Doug, who was nicknamed Dobber as a child, brought the pasty shop to Escanaba in 1975. That iconic name was added in 1989. “[In] our particular business, pasties, we are a destination for people. People are always telling us how they always stop in on their vacation. How they found us on the internet and sought us out. How someone told them they must have a Dobber’s Pasty. I should charge people to take their picture in front of our sign. You can’t believe how many people do that and take pictures of themselves or people in their group eating pasties.”
According to their customers, Dobber’s serves the BEST pasties in the Upper Peninsula (or anywhere outside of their own mother’s kitchen). They make pasties for both of their locations, Iron Mountain and Escanaba, in the Escanaba kitchen. They peel fresh local potatoes, chop and blend beef from whole muscle fresh meat, and hand peel 300 pounds of rutabagas a week. Along with the traditional beef pasty, they offer five other varieties; veggie, chicken, breakfast, ham & cheese, and pizza. While all are popular and delicious, the beef pasty remains the most popular and sought after. Want to learn more about what it takes to make a pasty? They also offer pasty making tours to visitors and community groups. In Brad’s words, “You get a little tour, history, and you get to make, bake, and eat your very own pasty.”
Brad sincerely values the communities his business has grown in, both in Escanaba and Iron Mountain. “When you need help, you can call just about anyone else in business and they will do amazing things to help. We know how special it is to be part of this unique business community, and I love the support from across the U.P.”
For Brad, his business and his life are really one in the same and he thoroughly enjoys it. “In fact, even though I am far from it, I had an employee ask me how I could ever retire. She could never see me not having my days filled with something business related. I have to agree.” Managing the day to day operations at Dobber’s keeps Brad busy, but he finds time to enjoy the typical U.P. activities; hunting, fishing, biking, hiking, off-roading with his wife and two children, Gabe and Victoria. Somehow he manages to find time to be very active in the community as a member of the Escanaba Rotary Club, a board member for the Gladstone Planning Commission, a precinct delegate for the Delta County Republicans, as well as an active member at St. Anne Catholic Church.
Brad looks forward to carrying on his family’s tradition for pasty making for many years to come. So, on your next trip through Escanaba or Iron Mountain, take a moment to stop in to Dobber’s and bring home a bit of Upper Peninsula history to your family. Head over to www.dobberspasties.com and send a pasty (or a dozen) to your out-of-town friends and family, we’re certain they will enjoy the Yooper sentiment.
Phone: (906) 786-1880
Address: 827 N. Lincoln Rd. Escanaba, MI 49829