Michael Hilt was drawn into The Daily Dish by the promise of pasties, advertised in signs outside the restaurant.
As an Olympic College instructor working with the shipyard’s apprenticeship program, he wanted to catch a quick lunch before class. He’d heard of pasties when he taught in England, but never had one before, so he ordered one with beef – the traditional variety.
“I wish I could have a pint of beer with it,” Hilt told owners Lynn Beckwith and Kelly Bauch April 1, after his first bite.
Beckwith concedes not everyone likes pasties (pronounced “pass-tees”), the English hand-held pot pie, and many are afraid to try them. They might also be put off by the name, similar to the “pasties” known for being worn by scantily-clad baristas in drive-through coffee stands.
“People were a little confused,” Beckwith said, pointing out a sign in the window describing the difference between English pasties and the more scandalous variety. “I think the pasties still have to take awhile to set in.”
But for some, mainly from the Midwest or England, pasties elicit familiar memories of childhood.
One customer, Wade Darrow, took photos of some pasties on Monday, recalling how his grandmother used to make them in South Dakota.
Beckwith brought her family’s pasty recipe from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan – she’s a native “Yooper.” Pasties, shaped somewhat like calzones, originated in Cornwall, England, where coal miners held them by the crust and kept them hot on pipes. Since then, they became popular in U.S. coal mining areas such as the upper Midwest and Montana.
Beckwith and her business partner, Kelly Bauch, opened The Daily Dish at 208 First Street eight months ago, hoping to attract Puget Sound Naval Shipyard workers and ferry commuters. Beckwith was laid off from her job at the former Washington Mutual bank after it was bought by Chase, and after a year of seeking work, invited Bauch, a dental assistant at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, to join her in opening a restaurant.
Though Beckwith and Bauch said many Bremertonians are strangers to pasties, others see the signs in the window and come in seeking a specialty from their past.
“People come in and they’re like, ‘Who’s the Yooper?'” Beckwith said.
The Daily Dish offers several kinds of pasties, from the traditional beef to chicken, turkey dinner, vegetable, breakfast and fruit pasties. However, the restaurant’s daily specials, such as hot dogs or meat loaf, and its mini doughnuts, in flavors like cinnamon and Tang, are the most popular items.
The Daily Dish brands itself as American comfort food with quick service to accommodate shipyard employees and ferry commuters on the go.
“We knew that people coming down here are in a hurry so we basically have breakfast or lunch warm for them,” Beckwith said, adding that service is so quick, many customers decide to sit down and eat instead of taking their food on the go.
Bauch, originally from Wisconsin, prepares most of the food in the morning – something she never saw herself doing as someone who used to rely on the cooking of her mother or husband.
“I don’t cook,” she said, noting that her previous food service experience was working at Subway.
But she learned quickly how to make pasties and The Daily Dish’s other regular items.
“Things actually turned out awesome,” Bauch said.
Mike Hanson, an electrical engineer at the shipyard, isn’t sold on pasties. He’s a regular customer who usually orders the daily special and ordered a pair of Chicago-style hot dogs Monday.
“Rutabagas frighten me,” he said of the vegetable included in all pasties except for the turkey dinner and fruit ones.
But the pasties are what pulled in Ed Beck, who has been eating weekly at The Daily Dish since it opened. He ordered the hot dogs with a cherry pasty Monday during a break from his security job at the shipyard.
As a former recruiter for the Marines in Milwaukee, he used to buy pasties there frozen, a dozen at a time.
“We had to give the Yoopers a hard time,” Beck said of his discovery of The Daily Dish. “It was definitely a blast from the past.”
The Daily Dish also sells frozen pasties for customers to take home, which are popular during the holiday season, Beckwith said.
“We just wanted to provide something that’s not being done here,” she said.