Julie Mercer is living her dream – one pasty at a time.
In 2018, she unveiled Sonson’s Pasty Company in Northeast Mesa. Five months ago, a second location in Gilbert debuted.
“The response has been great,” Mercer said about the store at 1430 W. Warner Road, Suite 134, Gilbert.
It’s a blessing, as the opening date was fluid, due to supply chain and licensing issues. Once it was finished, the Cornwall, England, native quickly opened the doors and started selling her Cornish pasties, a pastry shell filled with beef, sliced or diced potato, rutabaga and onion and then baked.
Sonson’s Pasty Company features a small menu of pasties, cakes and sausage rolls. Mercer said many Americans need to be schooled on pasties.
“The history of the pasty is very interesting,” said Mercer, who moved to the United States in 2002. “They were made by miners’ wives to take to the tin mines for their husbands hundreds of years ago.
“The men would eat the pasties with their hands, but they had to throw away the crimp because their hands were filled with arsenic. They are a delicious meal in one.”
Mercer learned to make pasties by working in a bakery, one of five in her town of 3,000 people. She worked for them from age 22 to 30.
“The owner offered to sell me her other one, but I was too young,” Mercer said. “Instead, I moved here, worked for a company for 18 years, good company, good pay. I stayed with that until I was laid off in January. If I did this in my 20s, for sure I would have failed.”
Mercer took her severance pay and invested it in her pasty shop. She learned about finances and business during her 18 years as a retail manager. Her shop is named after her mother, Sonia, who moved to Mesa in 2007. Mercer and her mother worked in the same pasty shop in Cornwall.
It took Mercer a year to get to the point where she felt comfortable selling her pasties. Still, she doesn’t believe she’s at her best.
“I think I’ve improved since I started making them in February,” Mercer said. “It took me a while because I was trying to find out what meat to use, what shortening to use, flour and all that good stuff. It was different in England. I have to like what I’m making. If I don’t like it, I’m not going to sell it.”
Her menu is simple, and the pasties start at $9. Offerings include steak (traditional), ground beef, steak and cheese, cottage pie, Cornish “cheezy,” Philly cheesesteak, breakfast, chicken pot pie, chicken green chili and chicken and mushrooms.
Vegan offerings include a medley (mixed vegetables, garlic, herb sauce and tater tots); lentil and walnut; cheese, potato and onion; and meatless sausage roll.
“The steak and ground beef pasties are the more popular ones, especially the ground beef,” she said. “Ground beef is ground beef. You know what you’re getting.
“For steak, it could be flavored differently. I started with a salad bar and sandwiches, too. People weren’t coming for that. They are coming for pasties.”
Sonson’s also hosts a monthly special that is advertised through her mailing list. Former choices include chicken and bacon alfredo and chicken pot pie.
The new store serves as a restaurant and a central kitchen for Gilbert, Mesa, and any catering opportunities or future locations. Mercer has provided pasties to the Union Jack British Pub and the recent Phoenix Scottish Games in Gilbert.
So far, Sonson’s is everything she’s wanted. “I’m putting in these long hours every day, but it doesn’t matter,” Mercer said. “This is what I was supposed to do and here it is, I’m doing it.”
But, she said, the success all comes down to her employees.
“We work together as a team,” Mercer said. “I’m very, very blessed to have that. I try and look after them as they look after me. We keep moving forward.”
Sonson’s Pasty Company
1430 W. Warner Road, Suite 134, Gilbert, 602-300-0344, sonsonspastyco.com
6060 E. Brown Road, Suite 101, Mesa, 480-845-8485, sonsonspastyco.com
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