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Cezary Grosfeld’s pierogi recipe may come from his grandmother’s kitchen in Poland, but the inspiration for his business came from the frozen food section at Target. “I said, ‘What the heck is this?’” Grosfeld chuckles, recalling his first disappointing experiment with the bagged versions of his homeland’s national dish shortly after coming to the U.S. in 2005. “I had to do something about it.”
And so, Grosfeld set out to bring a bit of Poland to the American West. Since he began producing pierogi in 2010, he has been on a mission to introduce Denver to the Polish dumplings through any means necessary—opening three successful fine-dining restaurants (all of which Grosfeld has since shuttered to focus on his other projects), a food truck dubbed Pierogies Factory, and, most recently, a fast-casual eatery of the same name in Wheat Ridge. Grosfeld shows no signs of slowing down; in fact, he’s planning quite the opposite.
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Together with partner Jamie Boone (a 23-year veteran of Coca-Cola), Grosfeld hopes to found the country’s first Polish chain restaurant. He’s set his ambitious target at two or three new establishments each year, until his franchise has become a household name—not only in Colorado, but every corner of the country. “My dream is to see Pierogies Factory everywhere I go,” Grosfeld says.
He’s already working hard to get the name out. In addition to Pierogies Factory’s food truck and brick-and-mortar location, Denverites can sample Grosfeld’s fare at 15 different restaurants in the metro area, including Boulder’s Bohemian Biergarten and Aurora’s Cedar Creek Pub, as well as at the South Pearl Street Farmers’ Market, and at home via delivery service from Amazon Fresh. Frozen bags of his dumplings are on sale at 60 retail stores across the Southwest (including Whole Foods and Lucky’s Market), and his online shop ships pierogi to both coasts.
Grosfeld owes much of his success to his willingness to push outside the box. He currently makes 16 different types of pierogi (including six vegan flavors), ranging from classic potato-cheese to a breakfast variety stuffed with bacon and egg. No matter the style, Grosfeld manages to maintain authenticity by avoiding additives and preservatives, and, above all, maintaining a personal touch—his mom still works in the kitchen as ‘quality control.’ “I want to make people what I’m eating at home,” Grosfeld says.
Despite all his successes, Grosfeld’s biggest challenge is simply getting people to try Polish food. But with the steady stream of transplants helping diversify Colorado’s food scene, his odds are constantly improving—last year, his inaugural Mile High Pierogi Festival in Wheatridge drew more than 3,000 people. Grosfeld’s message to potential customers is simple: “If you’ve never had Polish food, just come in once—I’m pretty confident you’re going to come back.”
One first-time diner during the busy lunch rush in Wheat Ridge underscores his point: “I don’t know what I’m eating, but it’s delicious.” And just like that, Grosfeld is building his empire—one convert at a time.