HUMBOLDT PARK — A new family-owned restaurant from the makers of the Pierogi Wagon will set up shop this month less than one block north of a Humboldt Park intersection brimming with new development.
The Polak Eatery is set to open Sept. 20 at 1043 N. California Ave. and will feature a list of Polish-inspired breakfast and lunch items similar to offerings at its popular food truck — which can be found at Slippery Slope in Logan Square on weekends.
Co-owners Damian Warzecha and his wife Jessica Whitney moved to Palmer Square with their 2-year-old daughter in order to be closer to their new brick-and-mortar restaurant — the couple built their business from the ground up and have gotten a great response from eager fans so far, Warzecha said.
“We don’t come from money. I came from Poland. We had no loans, no friends or family to give us money. We had nothing before,” he said.
But that changed after a successful Kickstarter campaign for about $15,600 to fund the Pierogi Wagon, said Warzecha, who permanently immigrated to the U.S. about 10 years ago.
“It was a long struggle. I mean, a restaurant is not a gold mine, but the goal is to serve as many people as we can. We started from zero and are building it over time,” he added.
The menu will include pierogis and coffee, goulash, hand-cut fries, poutine, schnitzel burgers, borsch and paczki options.
The Polak Eatery will be open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and will offer free coffee at its grand opening as “a thank you to the neighborhood,” Warzecha said.
The name was intentionally chosen by Warzecha in recognition of a derogatory term about Polish people, traditionally spelled "Polack."
"Any time I mention the name to anyone I meet, especially among the American market, the reaction I get is quite fascinating. They know it’s a bit of a play," he said. "Part of my goal is to play with it in a special way."
"We call ourselves Polaks in the Polish language all the time ... I'm Polish and its not a slur to me," he said.
Warzecha and Whitney will also host an open house for job applicants Sept. 18 at 2 p.m. at the new restaurant location. Applications are open for positions in the back of the house, front of the house and for a barista. Warzecha especially encourages Humboldt Park residents to apply.
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