Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

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A Cornish Tradition in Cadillac

Mr. Foisie’s Pasties

Kristi Kates - May 13th, 2013  

So. You’re retired, you love Northern Michigan in the summertime, and you still “have enough energy to do something”… but what exactly do you do? Well, if you’re Nancy Vollmar and her husband, Jerry, you take over a restaurant, of course.

They may have had zero restaurant experience prior to their current venture, but what the Vollmars lack in culinary knowledge, they make up for with enthusiasm, attention to detail, and pride in product, that product being the longpopular Mr. Foisie’s Pasties, a Cornish tradition turned Cadillac restaurant institution.


Mr. Foisie’s Pasties was founded in 1987 by Ron Foisie, a teacher at Cadillac High School with roots in the Upper Peninsula. Whenever Foisie would go back to the U.P. to visit family, his Cadillac friends would say, “bring us back some pasties!” and with the help of an old Foisie family recipe, Mr. Foisie’s Pasties was born.

The labor-intensive restaurant (all the pasties are made fresh from scratch) eventually ran its course for Foisie, and he sold his pasty business to locals Al and Gail Nelson, who ran it for 10 years. When it came time to pass the pasty torch yet again, Nancy Vollmar, a guidance counselor who had worked with Foisie at Cadillac High, was there to reach out.

“My husband and I saw the for-sale sign, and we did some investigating,” Vollmar explains. “Once we realized we could be gone in the winter and still run a solid business, we just thought it would be fun.”

The Vollmars purchased Mr. Foisie’s Pasties six years ago in August, recipes included, and threw themselves in to the new challenge.


On the surface, a pasty restaurant might seem like a fairly tame thing to take on to the non-restauranteur. But pasties actually have a long, colorful, and quite particular history.

The pasty’s strongest association is with Cornwall, England, although its name is a word borrowed from Medieval French that indicates a pie filled with meat and vegetables and baked without a dish. Pasties have pretty much stayed the same throughout the years - picture a halfcircle shaped turnover with meat and veggies instead of fruit.

Perhaps those most familiar with pasties were Cornish miners, who carried the pasty into the mines in their pockets as a complete meal; it could stay warm for several hours underground, and if it got cold could be warmed on a spade over a candle.

“One of the other neat historical things is that each wife of a miner had their own ‘twirl,’” Vollmar explains, “a part of the dough that was twisted or wrapped in a unique fashion on the end.

This was so the miners could tell whose pasty belonged to whom, even in the darkened mines.”

The U.P.’s pasties, which inspired the original Mr. Foisie’s, are actually something of a tourist attraction, having been brought to the region by both Cornish miners and Finnish immigrants, who adopted the pasty for use in the U.P.’s copper mines. Roadside pasty stands can still be found in the U.P. today.

Anyone who knows of all of this history will of course expect their pasties to be “made right” in the classic Cornish fashion, and that’s exactly what you’ll find at Mr. Foisie’s.

“We stick to the traditional recipes,” Vollmar explains, “beef, chicken, and vegetable. All of our pasties have rutabaga (a kind of turnip), which is a traditional pasty ingredient, although it’s not in use for much else today. There are other pasty shops that do different things with pasties, but we’re not interested in doing that - our primary focus is making our fresh, in a very clean and friendly environment.”


Mr. Foisie’s makes their pasties three times a week, a process that keeps their whole staff busy.

“We start early on a pasty-making day,” Vollmar says. “And on the days we’re not actually making pasties, we’re prepping the ingredients, dicing potatoes, making the dough, chopping the vegetables.”

Some people like their pasties with ketchup, some with gravy, and some just like them plain, Vollmar explains. But to her and her husband, the most important thing is to start with a quality pasty, with everything as fresh as possible.

“Everything is prepared just a couple of days in advance, at the very most,” she says. “We do have frozen pasties available, but we freeze those with our own rapid-freeze process right here. Many people will have a meal in our restaurant, and will then take a bunch of frozen pasties home with them. They’re very easy to heat up later, and make a hearty meal.”

Plenty of diners choose to stay right in Mr.

Foisie’s small but welcoming café, festooned with a Union Jack, photos of miners, and other English memorabilia. The kitchen is also open to the dining area, so that visitors can view pasties and the other house specialties - desserts (fruit pies and standout apple dumplings) - being made. But dine in or carry out, the pasties are still the number one thing.

So why are pasties so popular 700 years later, and “out of their element” here in Lower Northern Michigan? “It’s just a different kind of food,” Vollmar smiles. “It’s not a fast food, but it’s quick - we try to have them warm and ready starting at 11 a.m. each day so you can walk in and get them fresh. They’re likely probably better for you than most meals you could get at a drive-thru place. And the rutabaga gives them a unique flavor that you don’t get elsewhere.”

And for $5.19 - the price for all pasties across the board at Mr. Foisie’s - who could argue with that?

“We try to keep it as simple as possible,” Vollmar says. “Try it, and you’ll like it.”

Mr. Foisie’s Pasties is located in the Cadillac Resort District at 154 Leisure Street, telephone 231-779-9042. They may also be found on Facebook.

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