Bill Walker (right) recently purchased Lehto’s Pasties on US-2. His wife, Laurie Walker (left), is a member of the Lehto family – her aunt originally opened the pasty shop. They are pictured with their son, Max Walker.
Bill Walker, a St. Ignace native who spent much of his life and career in lower Michigan, purchased Lehto’s Pasties May 1. The pasty shop, on US-2, has a simple menu, which Mr. Walker doesn’t plan to change: Pasties come hot, cold, or frozen.
Pasties are $5.50 and weigh about a pound. Mr. Walker emphasizes the “about” because the pasties are homemade, and weight varies.
Mr. Walker left St. Ignace with his family in the mid-1960s, when he was in first grade. They went to Holland, Michigan, then Grand Rapids, where he was graduated from high school. He eventually settled in Traverse City, where he owned four food businesses consecutively.
The last one was a pasty shop. He also owned a fast food operation in a mall food court, opened Mackinaw Brewing Company, and Picnics, a sandwich catering business.
“Once I got involved, it was intriguing, fun, different,” he said of the restaurant business. “It just hooked me, and I’ve been doing it ever since,” he said.
Through his work, he has employed up to 100 people. He plans to hire one full-time and two parttime workers at the St. Ignace place and open up more pasty shops – first, returning to Traverse City where his former customers have been asking about his pasties, then probably Gaylord, or Cadillac. He’s had his Traverse City customers visit his St. Ignace shop.
While Mr. Walker lived downstate, he visited St. Ignace often. His extended family, including the Walkers and the Bentgens, live in town. His wife, Laurie, is related to the Lehto family of St. Ignace.
His business west of St. Ignace sees local residents and “returning campers and cottage people” headed downstate, he said. Frozen pasties are especially popular on Sundays, when people are traveling and want to take some home.
“People just come,” he said. “It’s a simple recipe, but the people seem to like it.”
Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week. Mr. Walker plans to keep the shop open through hunting season.