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, 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, employed 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, son 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 (two 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 number, started taking VISA and Mastercard, and now ship all over the US. After that, mention of Millie's appeared in the Washington Post, Victoria, and Country Living magazines.
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!
Although Walter graduated into the Lord's presence in '91, Ann in 2012, Anna in 2014, we still are a small, family-owned and -operated business. Any time you see our trailer at a fair, it'll be Bill or the kids manning it. If you follow us online, that's Melody and Tim. We take pride in knowing that we are producing an authentic, handmade, quality pierogi, and hope to be servicing you soon!