Dobber’s Pasties a staple for three generations

Jordan Beck | Daily Press Dobber’s Pasties co-owner Brad Mantela checks on a tray of pasties. According to Mantela, the business has been in his family for three generations.

ESCANABA — Brad Mantela, who co-owns Dobber’s Pasties with his wife Josie Mantela, said this business has been in his family for three generations.

The history of Dobber’s began with the Red Onion Restaurant, which was owned by Mantela’s grandfather in Negaunee in the 1960s.

Pasties were one of the items on the Red Onion Restaurant’s menu. However, they became so popular that Mantela’s grandfather decided to drop the restaurant’s other offerings and rename his business the Red Onion Pasty Shop.

“In 1975, he said ‘I’ll help you get a shop started in Escanaba,'” Mantela said.

The Escanaba store opened in September 1975. Originally, it was also called the Red Onion Pasty Shop.

“In 1988, my parents opened a store in Iron Mountain and renamed the business ‘Dobber’s Pasties,'” Mantela said.

He noted the new name was based on his father’s childhood nickname. The name change took place so the business could have a name it could trademark.

Though he grew up in the business, Mantela went downstate to go to college, got an engineering degree and worked as an engineer for about a decade. In 1999, he returned to the area and started working at Dobber’s again.

“In 2008, my wife and I purchased the business,” Mantela said.

Today, Dobber’s Pasties still focuses almost entirely on its namesake product.

“I always tell people ‘we only do one thing, so we have to do it right,'” Mantela said.

Dobber’s offers six varieties of pasties: beef, veggie, chicken, breakfast, ham and cheese, and pizza. Traditional beef pasties are the store’s best-selling variety.

While many Dobber’s customers are from the area, Mantela said a significant amount of the store’s traffic comes from tourists. He noted business at the store doubles during the summer months.

According to Mantela, he is glad his business is able to welcome newcomers to the area.

“We really take pride in being part of the U.P. culture,” he said.

In 2007, Dobber’s became certified by the United States Department of Agriculture. This allowed the business to ship its pasties, organize fundraisers and sell pasties wholesale.

Today, Dobber’s ships pasties to all 50 states.

“(That’s) a good portion of our business today,” Mantela said.

Mantela said he aims to focus on Dobber’s Pasties’ internet presence going forward.

“Right now, I want to continue to grow the online business,” he said.

He noted that, while its physical locations have grown steadily over the years, online sales are where the business has seen its most rapid growth.

To learn more about Dobber’s Pasties, or to place a pasty order, visit dobberspasties.com.

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