Poland has invaded the largely Italian-Irish Morningside section of the city -- and it’s winning. Who’d have thunk it?
"Mezzie’s" is breathing some new life into the Tyler Street section of Morningside, and in doing so is providing customers with a made-from-scratch kielbasa hash that reportedly is to die for The Polish enclave that is Adams is said to be making the trip south on Route 8 just to sample this unique menu item and other Polish fare.
All of this certainly pleases Pittsfield native Heather Mierzejewski, who with business partner Adam LaCasse, of Lanesborough, have reopened the retail space that once housed the iconic S&J Variety Store, which was owned for decades by the Katz brothers, Sammy and Jay.
The restaurant and variety store sits directly across from the former St.. Mary’s Church and has been open since June 3. Those who travel Tyler Street on a regular basis have surely seen the new sign, which is a shortened version of Heather’s last name.
"Her entire last name might not have fit," said LaCasse, a 1999 Mount Greylock Regional High School graduate. "We’ve been doing catering and we were looking for a spot for a restaurant. This site worked, because it’s not too big and not too small. We wanted just a restaurant, but the variety store part came with the deal. But it’s been OK, because we don’t and never intended to serve alcohol. The vendors take care of a lot of stuff and our customers have been telling us what they need."
Mierzejewski grew up on the West Side of the city and is a 1984 Taconic High graduate. She cut her teeth in the restaurant business right after high school, including a 15-year, do-everything stint at the former Silver Screen Restaurant at the now-defunct Pittsfield Plaza on Route 20. Her new location and venture is a dream come true.
"We had been looking for about five years," she said. "I think in the end we wanted what the property offered."
"We’re thrilled that this happened," said Diane Marcella, who chairs the Tyler Street Business Group. "As a business group we do what we can to let people know where we have vacant retail space. We try to pass the word around."
Marcella said the recent expansion at the La Fogata restaurant and the possibility of newer and brighter street lights are two more examples of a Tyler Street rebirth.
Mierzejewski said she hopes "Mezzie’s" develops a reputation for good food. "Good Polish food," she emphasized.
She added that parking is good, the foot and auto traffic on Tyler Street is busy and that the Pittsfield citizens in the neighborhood have to date been very supportive and forthcoming.
"We’re already getting some regulars," said Mierzejewski, who added that the store is open seven days a week from 5:30 a.m. until mid-afternoon. "People seem to like the renovations we’ve done and the food we’re serving."
Added LaCasse, "We renovated for almost three months. The old lunch counter is still here, and I enjoy making breakfast and talking to the people. We’ve had many former S&J employees stop in and they’re all saying good things."
But Mierzejewski’s Polish recipes could be what springboards Mezzie’s to success.
"We’re doing well with takeout orders," she said. "It’s all fresh."
And for Tyler Street, a fresh push in the right direction.
Brian Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.