The Pierogie Place is an upcoming restaurant chain run by a local Ukrainian couple, Liz and Dan Kulchykyi. Along with other locations near the Jersey Shore and Lincoln Financial Field, the Kulchykyis offer it to Rowan students.
Both Liz and Dan’s parents were from Ukraine, however, their parents moved to the United States to live the “American Dream”. Dan grew up in a tight-knit community in Eastern Europe and Ukraine where he learned to speak Ukrainian fluently. Liz grew up helping her mother open her own pierogie restaurant in New York.
When they started their family, they decided to move to Ukraine and enroll their children in school there. Over the years they moved around Europe, soaking up even more of the culture of Eastern Europe.
Then 2020 hit and once again they uprooted their families and returned to the United States before the borders closed. While some people felt at the lowest point in their lives, the Kulchykyis had a different perspective and saw this moment as an opportunity to try something new: become restaurateurs.
“We chose pierogies because they make people feel comfortable. We grew up with this amazing dish and it’s not exactly common in the food chain market,” Liz said.
Their pierogies have a unique component, being boiled and baked, but not pan-fried.
“We wanted a healthier alternative to pan [pierogies]but we’re still getting feedback from our customers, so we’ve been discussing the possibility of offering pan-fried as an option in the future,” Liz said.
With their other three locations having great success, they continued to expand their love of pierogies to the Rowan campus. However, this opening provided more complications than their previous location.
“We had so many delays that would constantly be attributed to pandemic backups, and it would be frustrating because we had to push our grand opening out from the delays,” Dan said.
Even with all the setbacks they faced trying to open their restaurant, their resilience persevered and they managed to open their restaurants. When the students came to support their institution, they also witnessed the owners’ resilience and dedication to their roots, as they continually try to raise funds for the victims of Ukraine.
Liz made it her mission to help by reaching out to one of her peers in Ukraine, eventually getting in touch with Kyiv Children’s Hospital. She raises funds for hospitals so they can continue to ensure that their patients always receive their treatments. For every donation they receive, those who have donated receive a bracelet decorated with Ukrainian colors to continue to raise awareness of the atrocities that occur every day and to stand up for the victims of war and the resilience of the Ukrainian people.
The Kulchykyis’ plan to expand their business to spread more diversity and culture to the food industry, and as restaurateurs they hope to continue to impact local communities and ultimately the world. Hearing their incredible story while enjoying the delicious taste of their food is what keeps Rowan community students and local residents coming back.
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