A fresh start
An unexpected setback leads to changes, added convenience at Joe’s Pasty Shop
By Eileen Persike
June 21 was like Christmas morning for Rhinelander-area pasty lovers; it was the long-awaited re-opening of Joe’s Pasty Shop. Smoke, heat and water damage from a Sept. 10 fire ruined the interior, including the equipment. It was both a devastating loss and an unanticipated opportunity.
“This fire gave us the chance to really look at how we were going to return, how we were going to operate, and how this could be better…” Jessica Lapachin
“We were in shock for the first two months—shock about the fire and over the lack of a schedule,” said Jessica Lapachin, who along with her husband Larry, owns and operates Joe’s. “We had to make decisions on how we were rebuilding, but we needed to take a minute and think about what we really wanted to do.”
For over 12 years the Lapachins worked long days, waking at 3 a.m. to mix, assemble, bake, freeze, sell and serve pasties; often until 6 p.m. only to get up and do it all over again nine hours later. It was a lifestyle and a business model that Jessica said was not sustainable. How to make a change and slow things down was a topic of conversation for the couple for about two years.
“This fire gave us the chance to really look at how we were going to return, how we were going to operate, and how this could be better for our lifestyle and our longevity,” Jessica explained. “It had to change in some way for us.”
That change, the Lapachins decided, would mean selling frozen pasties, and no longer serving them hot.
“We were always selling frozen pasties anyway,” Jessica said. “Most people will come in buy a dozen, take them to their cabin, cook them during the week when they’re super busy and that’s where the bulk of our sales were and that’s really an efficient way to produce these in the quantity that we need.”
What has not changed is the Lapachin’s dedication to locally grown produce and meats, which they have showcased in their pasties for the past ten years.
“It’s been important to us for a long time,” Jessica said. “That’s how we eat, that’s how we live and we decided it’s what we need to do for our business.”
The shop has been remodeled so that a large part of it is kitchen work space where Larry spends his work day; the smaller room in front is painted a cheery tangerine color and houses two freezers and a small counter where Jessica has more time to talk with customers while she fills orders.
To inch closer to a more moderate schedule, Joe’s Pasty Shop retail hours have been reduced. To accommodate their customers, the Lapachins have invested in technology that will allow pasty lovers to pick up pre-ordered pasties when the store is closed. An email form on the website allows customers to place an order, pay for it and choose a pickup date and time. Jessica receives an email notification and calls or texts the customer an access code to enter the building and grab their pasty order out of the chest freezer.
“We have great customers and people will appreciate the convenience,” Jessica said. “It might be bumpy and it will take a while to figure out, but we’ll get there and it will be efficient for everybody.”
Joe’s Pasty Shop is open Monday through Thursday 11 a.m.–3 p.m. and Friday 10 a.m.–1 p.m. Visit iILovePasties.com for more information.