Krakus Market, one of the last bastions of Polish cooking and culture in Port Richmond, closed Aug. 8 after three decades, the owners announced on Facebook.
The post said the Gardyasz family was retiring. "The decision to retire was not made lightly and we will miss each and every one of you who shopped under our roof, recommended our products to friends and family, and visited us regularly including holidays," it said. "This has always been a family-run business and we are so grateful to have expanded that family to all of our wonderful customers and employees over the years."
Reaction was swift and passionate. "Thank you for making my Polish roots deeper," wrote one customer. "You will be missed dearly," wrote another. "It was great to have a Polish market that was full of traditions not to mention that outstanding kielbasa and Polish food. Proud of my Polish heritage and proud to be a customer of Krakus for many years. Wish you all the best. With love from the Polish hills of Manayunk."
A representative of the family has not yet replied to my messages seeking elaboration.
The business began in the mid-1960s as a small butcher shop in Wissinoming owned by recent immigrants Franciszek Gardyasz and his son, Zenon.
They moved to a double storefront on Richmond Street near Allegheny Avenue — in the heart of the city's Polish enclave — in the mid-1980s, expanding it into a supermarket and deli with a restaurant in the front that served such specialties as golabki, hunter's stew, soups, and pierogi. Its line of kielbasa was unsurpassed.
In recent years, since Zenon Gardyasz's death, his daughter Sylvia had run the business.
"When our Grandfather and Father started this business over 30 years ago, they had no idea that Krakus would turn out to be so much more than an ethnic food deli," the post said. "It became part of their legacy, a place for reunions and new relationships to form, as well as countless memories to share.
"Most importantly, Krakus Market provided tradition. You brought us home to your family's dinner table to keep Polish traditions alive and for that we are so grateful! Beginnings can be scary and endings are usually sad, but it's what's in the middle that counts. Thank you ALL for making it count!"