American Axle, Under The Eagle and Polonia, March 21, 2007
We arrived at Under The Eagle, a well known Polish restaurant, before it opened Wednesday morning. The tables were set in preparation for the day, and the kitchen staff was prepping the Polish cuisine for the inevitable busy day ahead. We had the delightful opportunity to speak with Teremia Peczenvik, Polish immigrant and restaurant owner. She told us about her homeland and, among other things, she recalled the excitement that surrounded Pope John Paul’s visit to Hamtramck in 1987. As she gestured to the photograph of him passing her restaurant, she expressed how proud she was to share her Polish heritage with such a great man. Though brief, our visit to Under The Eagle and conversation with Teremia only reinforced the feelings of Polish pride we’ve seen throughout our adventure.
Next we made a visit to the American Axle Manufacturing facility in Hamtramck. This international company has provided jobs for thousands of hard working people, many of whom share Polish ancestry. He spoke with Richard Dauch, CEO, of the AAM Hamtramck headquarters. His experiences with Polish people date back to the fifties when he played little league baseball in Ashland Ohio. He knew his team was good, but when they met Hamtramck’s team, the Poles prevailed. He saw a team of hard working, proud, true competitors. Now, as a business leader in a predominately Polish community he recognizes these traits as inherent Polish culture. He expressed true admiration for his Polish colleagues and friends.
If you’ve never been to Poland, walking through the doors of Polonia restaurant in Hamtramck is like an instant Polish retreat. That is were we found ourselves for lunch. From the authentic Polish music to the one hundred percent Polish staff, the atmosphere at Polonia saturates your senses with Polish culture. Then there’s the menu of over fifteen Polish entrées that will make anyone glad they came. After we sampled the spectacular menu, and waited for the afternoon rush to calm down, we sat down with John Zurowski, owner of Polonia. Genuine hospitality is a good way to being to describe his demeanor. He was all smiles as he told us about his past: his immigration, opening his restaurant. When we asked him what was the hardest part about coming to the United States, he thought for a moment, then said “the lack of Polish food.” Now he is doing his part to make sure any fellow Poles feel right at home when they eat at his restaurant. With full stomachs and friendly goodbyes we left Polonia, but we knew we’d be back soon.