When Polish native Jozef Kuruc came to Williamsburg several years ago by way of New Jersey, he quickly took to the green landscapes and friendly people.
But one thing his new home lacked was a place to purchase Polish and other Eastern European food. Instead of complaining, he solved the problem by opening Kielbasa Euro Deli and Market in a small shopping center off Bypass Road. This autumn his business will celebrate 10 years. Along with the Williamsburg store, he has a Norfolk location that opened seven years ago. Each location has three employees
Kuruc initially worked in construction. After an injury ended his carpenter career, he felt he needed to reinvent himself.
He noticed whenever he would mention to a fellow Polish-American that he was planning a visit to New Jersey, they would ask him to bring back authentic Polish kielbasa (sausage) from one of the Polish stores common in the Northeast and Midwest. That gave him the idea to make a business out of supplying local Polish food lovers.
When asked about his wife's reaction to opening the store, Kuruc said, "she didn't tell me not to."
No food is made at the store, instead, each week, he drives to New Jersey in his specially equipped truck, loads up and drives back.
The stores have 11 different types of kielbasa, his best sellers are wedding kielbasa and home style. In addition, he sells a large variety of pierogi and golabki (stuffed cabbage). Baked goods include poppy seed bread, rye breads, nut breads plus pastries. A large selection of canned, jar, prepared mixes and candy line the shelves. Non-grocery items include Polish pottery and other novelties. He carries three types of Polish beer.
Most regular customers are Polish immigrants who settled in Hampton Roads as well as people whose parents and grandparents came from Poland. A steady stream of non-Poles who once lived near Polish communities such as Chicago or have Polish-American friends that introduce them to the cuisine also shop.
The store is especially busy around the Christmas and Easter holidays so he stocks up then.
Kuruc said his favorite customer comment came from an older gentleman whose wife, familiar with Polish food, brought home kielbasa and stored it in the refrigerator.
"He said he complained about the strong smell and asked her to get rid of it. She cooked it and served it to him. Once he tasted it he loved it. He said he told her to buy more next time," he said laughing.
Check it out
113 Palace Lane, Williamsburg, 757-220-0223
Hours: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. monday through Saturday and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday