Cornish Pasty Company opens new location in downtown Phoenix

The chain’s ‘biggest and busiest’ location is a long-awaited addition to the downtown culinary scene

After nearly half a decade, a Mill Avenue staple has opened its doors in the heart of downtown Phoenix, within walking distance of the Downtown campus.

Cornish Pasty Company opened its newest location on Central Avenue and Monroe Street in March after four years spent financing and renovating the three-story building to prepare it for business.

Tyler Ryan, the manager of the new location, said between Saint Patrick’s Day festivities, the Final Four tournament and the beginning of the Diamondbacks season, they have already experienced just how hectic it can get in downtown Phoenix.

“This is our biggest and busiest location,” he said. “Being downtown, we’re learning about all the crazy events that happen down here and how there’s always something going on. That’s probably been our hardest and biggest thing to learn, constantly keeping up with the high demand.”

Part of that demand comes from the popularity of the signature dish. Pasties, not to be confused with pastries, are hand-held pot pies traditionally filled with meat, potatoes, other vegetables and cheese. They were originally baked for Cornish tin miners because they were filling and easy to eat without a plate or silverware. Now, they’re a staple of Cornish fare.

Cornish Pasty Co. was founded by Cornwall native Dean Thomas in 2005 as he sought to bring Cornish cuisine to Tempe residents. There are now five locations in Arizona, as well as locations in Las Vegas and Boston.

“(Thomas) has said he wants a college student to be able to come in and get a gourmet meal for cheap, so that’s why we try to stick to the budget of an $11 pasty and a $4 pint,” Ryan said.

He added that Cornish Pasty Co. provides a relaxed dining experience, with no TVs and a more casual ambience that makes it easier to sit and have conversations with the people across the table.

This relaxed atmosphere has worked: The eatery has gained a cult-like following among students for its wide variety of inexpensive and filling options, from the traditional steak and potatoes pasty to dishes inspired by Italian and Mexican cuisine. There are also over a dozen vegan and vegetarian options available.

Campbell Punnett, an interdisciplinary studies junior, said he ate at one of the Cornish Pasty Tempe locations a few weeks ago and enjoyed his meal more than the pasties one can get from the freezer section of a grocery store.

“This wasn’t my first time having (a pasty), but definitely my first time having one that’s actually quality,” he said. “It’s almost like if you took a shortbread cookie or something but made it a savory dish — it’s so thick and buttery.”

He said he enjoyed the Mexican pasty and would like to go back and try their other dishes.

“I would definitely recommend this place to other ASU students,” Punnett added. “It may not look like that much when you get it, but they’re super filling and yeah, totally worth the money.”

Kristen Fischer, who began working as a server when the downtown Phoenix location opened, said she enjoys the restaurant’s relaxed environment because she feels freer to be herself and connect with customers.

“I (previously) worked in really corporate-type places like Olive Garden, where you have to be very straight-faced, look a certain part, act a certain way,” she said. “And that’s fine in those places, but I feel like at this place you can give a better experience for customers when you are allowed to be more personable.”


Reach the reporter at  skylar.mason@asu.edu or follow @skylarmason42 on Twitter.

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