Along a busy street just off Interstate 15 in Helena, you’ll find a gas station, and within it, a little shop selling homemade bundles of beef, potato, and pastry.
“These are made fresh every day, which is wonderful coming from a Friendly’s Sinclair. I don’t think there’s another one that does it,” says Diane Hamper, owner of Big Paul’s Pasties. The business is named for her husband, and the food is cooked by her every day.
“It’s all homemade from scratch. Kind of started out on our own and just built a little business.”
That business was created at the urging of their kids, who thought Diane’s pasties were too good to keep to themselves.
Now after having several locations around Helena, they’ve settled into the Sinclair on 11th, surprising gas station goers with homemade goodness.
“I’ll tell them and they still don’t believe me. Even when I go over and wait on them and I have flour all over me, they think I’m shipping them in, but I’m not,” says Diane.
The pasties contain pieces of steak and ground beef, along with potatoes, carrots and peas. They come in various sizes and other flavors, as well.
Diane says one of the best things about a pasty is it’s portable.
“They go snowmobiling, stop and put them on the manifold of their snowmobile, heat ’em up in a foil, we have people who ice fish, tons of people take them ice fishing and there’s a lot of people who take them in hunting camps,” says Diane.
Or just take them home, along with some gravy.
She adds, “You’re going to have a good meal, a well-rounded meal. There’s vegetables, two kinds of meat and a wonderful crust.”
Diane sells her pasties out of the storefront at Friendly’s and also fills large orders for family events and catering.
Story by Melissa Jensen, MTN News