UPDATE: Take a look inside Pierogies Factory, now open and dishing out dumplings.
When Polished Tavern owner Cezary Grosfeld moved from Poland to Denver ten years ago, he noticed that there were very few places in town that served the food of his home country. Despite having a master's degree in software engineering, Grosfeld decided to jump into the food service industry, opening Kinga's Lounge in 2007. Moving on from Kinga's, he opened Polished Tavern in 2011 and also launched a commercial pierogi kitchen called White Eagle Foods, which he has since renamed Pierogies Factory to match the brand of the Polish food truck that's become part of the regular farmers' market rotation around the city. And now Grosfeld is nearly ready to open a fast-casual version of Pierogies Factory on Wadsworth Boulevard just north of 38th Avenue in Wheat Ridge.
Grosfeld hopes to open Pierogies Factory next Monday and by April 2 at the latest, depending on final permits and completion of work converting the former Bubba Chinos space into a kitchen that will serve Dazbog coffee and European pastries beginning at 6:30 a.m., with five varieties of pierogies, Polish kielbasa, golabki (cabbage rolls) and other Polish fare offered through lunch and dinner. Pierogies Factory will also serve a Polish street-food specialty called zapiekanka: open-faced baguette sandwiches topped with melted cheese and various ingredients. Grosfeld had a version of zapiekanka on the menu at Polished Tavern, but has purchased a proper oven for his new eatery so that the baguettes can be correctly toasted from the top and bottom.
Pierogies will be served in the traditional manner, with caramelized onions and sour cream, but Grosfeld will also dish up green chile as a Colorado-style topping. When it comes to tradition, though, he doesn't take shortcuts. "A lot of people use cheddar, but I use farmer's cheese," he says, pointing to the potato and cheese blend that's common in Polish pierogies.
Recipes come from his family members who lived in the small town of Lomza, Poland, where Grosfeld learned to cook. "I used to always cook with my grandmother," he recalls. "But I learned that cooking for customers is a lot different than cooking for friends and family."
Grosfeld has spent years perfecting his pierogies for commercial production. "The biggest challenge was the dough," he explains. "To make a perfect dough with the right thickness took about a year." Using a pierogi machine purchased in Chicago, Pierogies Factory can turn out about 5,000 of the Polish dumplings an hour from the commercial kitchen located in Arvada. The commercial business caters for groups of up to 200 and sells wholesale pierogies to many specialty markets throughout Denver; that business will continue. Grosfeld just started selling his products at Tony's Markets last week and the pierogies will also be available at local Whole Foods grocery stores within the next two months.
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Now Grosfeld thinks the Denver market is ready for a fast-casual Polish restaurant. "In Chicago and Pittsburgh, everybody knows about this stuff," he says. "I can't wait to open the place so more people can try my pierogies."