PORTAGE PARK — Polish meats, dishes and deli options are available at a new Far Northwest Side market where Szymanski Deli & Liquors stood for more than 30 years.
Polish Farm Market opened two weeks ago at 6014-6016 W. Irving Park Road, the longtime home to Szymanski’s, which went out of business in October.
Polish Farm Market is open 8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily.
Market co-owner George Herrera and his two brothers began revamping the business in May with a goal to fill the void from Szymanski’s and offer fresh, locally sourced groceries at affordable prices.
Polish Farm Market has a deli and hot food bar with classic Polish items made daily, including szaszłyk (skewered and grilled cubes of meat); mielony (ground pork patties); and roladki (a savory meat roll stuffed with pork, chives and vegetables). Sauerkraut and fried cottage cheese rolls and vegetables wrapped in fish are also on the menu.
To-go items, including sushi, salads and soups, are also for sale. The grocery also has a line of kielbasa, fish and cheeses. The owners plan to fill out the deli shelves with more kielbasa, smoked fish like trout and salmon and other Polish items.
“Business is good so far; I am seeing how it goes,” Herrera said. “I want to try to help [the Polish] community.”
As the store is in its early stages, the owners are asking for feedback from customers on what they can improve and what items they could sell. Herrera encourages people to ask for what they want, he said.
The store does not sell alcohol, but it will be able to once the city approves its liquor license, Herrera said.
The grocery store receives its seafood from Supreme Lobster and Seafood Company in suburban Villa Park. More partnerships with local farms and Polish food companies are in the works, Herrera said.
The owners, who are Mexican, added Latin food items like tortillas and salsas, but the store is primarily focused on Polish items, Herrera said.
Herrera hired employees who used to work at Szymanski’s and other Polish people from the community to boost the authenticity of the grocery store, he said. Gina Wimiarski, who makes all of the deli items from scratch every morning, worked at Szymanski’s for decades, she said.
“I am very happy to work here [again], and I thank George for everything,” Wimiarski said.
The Portage Park resident, who lives close to the shop, is from Poland and has lived in the neighborhood for 44 years. She speaks English, Spanish and Polish and wants the shop to attract all kinds of people from the community.
“It’s a nice atmosphere here. … When we get more fish and Polish meats, more people will come,” she said.
Polish immigrants began settling in the Wicker Park area in the 1800s, establishing churches, schools and a vibrant business district. Throughout the 20th century, Polish Americans established communities up and down Milwaukee Avenue on the Northwest Side.
But as Polish delis closed or moved to the suburbs, Far Northwest Side Polish grocery stores dwindled. The addition of the Portage Park market will offer more options for Polish families still living in the city, neighbors previously told Block Club.
Herrera plans to open the bakery next week now that he’s secured a Polish baker, he said.
Herrera is still hiring people to work at the deli. Those interested can call Herrera at 773-574-7808.
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