Polish Deli Closing in East Village as Owner Retires After 30 Years
EAST VILLAGE — One of the last remaining Polish delis in the neighborhood will close next month as the longtime owner retires.
Wieslawa Kurowycky has run First Avenue Pierogi & Deli, 130 First Ave. near St. Mark's Place, for more than 30 years. But as business declined and she grew older, she decided that she was done.
“I deserve a break and I deserve my private life,” said Kurowycky, whose family owns the building.
The to-go shop will sell its last pierogi, blintzes and cabbage rolls on July 2, she said. The closure was first reported by EV Grieve.
Kurowycky opened the shop just before Easter in 1984, and since then she has spent six days a week making and selling traditional Polish dishes and treats.
Customers have long enjoyed the shop’s homemade goods and cheap prices — including a dozen pierogi for $6 and borscht for $3.50 — but sales have fallen the past few years, said Eva Audit, Kurowycky's daughter, who works in the shop.
Although First Avenue Pierogi has been featured in publications including the Village Voice and The New York Times, which called the pierogi “marvelously delicate and savory," the store is quiet most of the day, and it's not unusual for customers to step in after not visiting for years.
Audit, 33, said that when she was a child, there were many more Polish and Ukrainian restaurants in the area, but most have closed in recent years and other mom-and-pops "are slowly going away," she said.
“I just think the neighborhood is going through a change,” Audit said.
The deli tried to adapt by renovating the space and adding vegetarian and gluten-free menu items while keeping its prices reasonable, but it became clear it was time to close, she said.
Kurowycky said she is looking forward to relaxing and spending time with her family.
“We’ve had a good run and it’s time for us to leave [and] take a break,” she said.
The family has not begun searching for a replacement tenant for the space, Audit said.