The Pierogie Place is an upcoming chain restaurant run by a local Ukrainian couple, Liz and Dan Kulchykyi. With other locations near the Jersey shore and Lincoln Financial Field, the Kulchykyis are serving it up for Rowan students to enjoy.
Liz and Dan’s parents were both from Ukraine, however, their parents moved to the United States to live the “American Dream.” Dan grew up in a tight-knit eastern European and Ukrainian community where he learned to become fluent in Ukrainian. Liz grew up helping her mother out with her own pierogie restaurant in New York City.
When they started their family, they decided to move to Ukraine and enroll their children in school there. Over the years, they moved throughout Europe, immersing themselves even more in the eastern European culture.
Then 2020 hit, and, once again, they uprooted their family and moved back to the United States before the borders were shut down. While some people felt they were at the lowest points in their lives, the Kulchykyis had a different perspective and looked at this moment as an opportunity to try something new: becoming restaurant owners.
“We chose pierogies because they provide a sense of comfort to people. 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 to them, being boiled and cooked, but not pan-fried.
“We wanted a healthier alternative to pan-fried [pierogies], but we are always receiving feedback from our customers, so we have discussed the possibility of offering pan-fried as an option in the future,” Liz said.
With their three other locations having great success, they continued to expand their love of pierogies to Rowan’s campus. However, this opening provided more complications than their previous location.
“We had so many delays that would constantly get attributed to backups from the pandemic, and it would be frustrating because we had to push back our grand opening from the delays,” Dan said.
Even with all the setbacks they faced trying to open their restaurant, their resilience persevered and they were successful in opening their restaurants. When students came to support their establishment, they could also see the owners’ resilience and dedication to their roots, as they are continually trying 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, ultimately getting into contact with the children’s hospital in Kyiv. She raises funds for hospitals so they can continue to make sure their patients are still receiving their treatments. For every donation that they receive, those who have donated are given a wristband decorated with Ukrainian colors in order to continue to raise awareness for the atrocities happening everyday, and advocate for victims of the war and the resilience of Ukrainian people.
The Kulchykyis’ plan to expand their business to spread more diversity and culture in the food industry, and, being restaurant owners, they hope to continue to make an impact on local communities and, ultimately, on the world. Hearing their incredible story while also enjoying the delicious taste of their food is what continues to keep students in the rowan community and local residents coming back.
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