Julie Mercer believes everything in life comes down to timing.
A native of Cornwall, England, Mercer dreamt of having her own shop that sold Cornish pasties, a pastry shell filled with beef, sliced or diced potato, rutabaga and onion and then baked. On September 22, she achieved her longtime dream.
Sonson’s Pasty Company, at Brown and Recker roads in Mesa, features a small menu of pasties, cakes and sausage rolls. Mercer says many Americans need to be schooled on pasties.
“The history of the pasty is very interesting,” says 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 says. “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 says. “I 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. Small beef pasties is $6.50; large ground beef pasty, $8.50; steak and cheese, $8 and $10, for small and large, respectively; small sausage roll, $3; large sausage pasty, $8; steak pasty, $7.50 and $9.50; and chicken pasty, $8.
Vegan offerings include lentil and walnut base, layered with sweet potato fries, garlic and herb red sauce, peas and green beans ($8.50). The chick-less alfredo pasty features pasta twists, onions, garlic and alfredo sauce for $8.
“The steak and ground beef pasties are the more popular ones, especially the ground beef,” she says. “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.”
So far, Sonson’s is everything she’s wanted.
“I’m putting in these long hours every day, but it doesn’t matter,” Mercer says. “This is what I was supposed to do and here it is, I’m doing it.”
Sonson’s Pasty Co., 6060 E. Brown Road, Mesa, 480.845.8485, sonsonspastyco.com.