|Walter Lopuk was no stranger to handmade pierogi. His Dad had come from Russia, his Mom from Poland, and he'd eaten many a pierogi in his youth.||
|And living in Chicopee Falls, with its predominantly Polish population, even the German-born Anna knew all about pierogi. As a married couple, they had a background in the food industry, having run two 24-hour diners for 25 years.|
|After Urban Renewal swept
through downtown Chicopee Falls was when the Lopuks
turned their eyes toward a pierogi business. At the
beginning, Millie's consisted of a small restaurant, a
production area the size of a 3-car garage, and a
delivery truck held together with baling wire and
prayers. Back then, we delivered pierogi to about 50
local supermarkets, employing a few pinchers, a couple of
waitresses, and a driver. At any turn you could expect to
find a family member - Dad did the cooking in the diner,
Mom did all the bookwork, brother Gary delivered pierogi
to the supermarkets and prepared the cabbage pierogi
filling, and daughter Ann did some waitressing,
delivering, and pinching pierogi.
Growth came steadily as we expanded into the farther reaches of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and then parts of Rhode Island, swelling the number of stores serviced to over 200. But when it gets to be summertime, supermarket sales slump as people turn to their outdoor grills and hot dogs. So we purchased a concession trailer and made the rounds of the local fairs. Although at some events we spent much of our time answering the question, "What's a pierogi?", we feel that we've now crossed the ethnic barrier, as people of all nationalities have been introduced to and enjoy pierogi.
About this time, brother Gary struck out on his own, opening up a used car lot, adjacent to the Millie's Pierogi property. Now Gary's Auto Sales does a booming business, specializing in Jeeps, earning him the nickname "The Jeep Man". He still makes sure that the delivery trucks (four now) are operating in tip-top shape.
By this time, Millie's was busting out of its little workspace, and an addition 3 times the size of the garage was added on. Walter went on to teach a culinary arts class at the vocational high school, leaving Ann to oversee the day-to-day operations. Not too long after that, Ann married, bringing a new worker into the picture. (His name may be Kerigan, but he works like he's Polish!)
Around this time was when an "as-yet-unknown" writer saw our help-wanted ad for "Pierogi Pinchers", and finding that unusual, set out to do a piece on us and submit it to Yankee magazine. Two years later, Yankee published it!
Susan Strempek Shea has gone on to write two nationally known best-sellers, "Selling the Lite of Heaven", and "Hoopi Shoopi Donna". As a result of the exposure in Yankee, we were inundated with calls about where and how to get our pierogi. It just so happened that we had already started shipping pierogi to folks who'd moved out of our area, so the mail order end of our business was born. Also as a result of Yankee, we were sampled by the New York Times food editor, and included in their annual review of great foods to order by mail for the holidays.
|Mail order exploded! We
got an 800 #, started taking VISA and Mastercard, and now
ship all over the US. After that, mention of us appeared
in the Washington Post, and Victoria and Country Living
Since you are reading this here, you know that the Web is our latest growth venture. Thank you to those that have brought us this far, and we're looking forward to supplying many of you whom we've yet to meet!
Now there's a new generation of pierogi workers coming along - Tim and Melody are in college and high school, respectively, and have learned the ins and outs of pierogi pinching over the years! On their breaks, you can find them either at a fair in our trailer, pinching pierogi in the plant, or boxing up your mail order of pierogi.
Although Dad was graduated into the Lord's presence in '91 and didn't get to see many of the recent changes, we still are a small, family-owned and -operated business. Any time you see our trailer at a fair, it'll be Bill, Ann, Mom or the kids manning it. Check out the pierogi truck - if it's a female, it's Ann. Mustache, that's Bill. And if you get a check from Millie's Pierogi, it's still signed by Anna Lopuk. We take pride in knowing that we are producing an authentic, handmade, quality pierogi, and hope to be servicing you soon!