A spread of potato pancakes, handmade pierogi, Hungarian pancakes, and goulash sits in front of host Sheldon Simeon on this episode of Cooking in America. He’s at Polish Village Cafe in Hamtramck, a city in Michigan just 13 minutes outside Detroit.
It’s owned by Carolyn Wietrztkowski, whose grandparents came to the United States from Poland in 1900, making their way to Detroit where a booming auto industry awaited. Polish Village Cafe started out as a gentleman’s hotel with lodging for working men and turned into a restaurant in the 1970s, where Detroit-style pizza was served in the evening and Polish food for lunch. As the Polish items proved to be a hit, pizza gracefully bowed out.
Polish Village Cafe’s popularity all these years speaks to the community’s fondness for nostalgia. “Hamtramck is a lot of people’s beginning,” says Wietrztkowski. “They like to come back and see the city where their family started.”
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