When Teddy and Hanna Robieniek came to the United States from communist Poland with just two suitcases and $100, they could not have predicted their future success.
They were forced to leave behind their children, Ania Duchon and Monika Poslinksi, with family as they set out to achieve the American dream. They began working at the Broadway Market and eventually were reunited with their children and saved enough money to purchase a bakery called E&M.
Today E.M. Chrusciki has three locations: Broadway Market, Lancaster and a café in College Park in Amherst. As Easter crowds converge on the Broadway Market, you’ll find multiple E.M. Chrusciki stands to keep up with holiday shoppers.
As Ania Duchon explains, her parents’ traditional Polish recipes keep generations of customers coming back year after year.
Question: What are the top three selling items at Easter time?
Duchon: Our best seller is placek by far – that’s our Polish coffee cake with butter crumbs and golden raisins. It’s made with our secret recipe for traditional placek dough. If only you could smell the bakery when the placek is baking, it’s heavenly.
Chrusciki, our namesake, comes in second – that’s sour cream fried dough with powdered sugar. And third are almond rings.
Q: What makes your baked goods special?
A: They’re very traditional recipes made with some of the best ingredients. All our recipes were brought over from Poland by Teddy and Hanna. We think our Polish flavors are perfect for everyone, just like your Babcia used to make.
Q: How challenging is it to keep up with Easter demand for baked goods?
A: When it’s the month of Easter, especially the two weeks leading up to it, it’s hard to keep enough placek and almond rings on the shelf. This also is the case for customer favorites like our pierogi, old-fashioned cupcakes and Easter cut-out cookies.
Q: Is Easter especially important to the Polish who are very religious?
A: Easter is a very special time for many in the Buffalo community and has a huge significance when it comes to tradition for the Polish community. Everyone goes and fills their baskets with breads, kielbasa, handcrafted eggs and more to be blessed and shared on their Easter table.
Q: How do you feel knowing that your baked goods are on so many holiday tables?
A: We talk about it every year when our family gets together on Easter. We reflect on how our business is doing and the impact it really has on the community.
It’s very humbling to know that so many generations gather around their table with our baked goods. It’s great to be a part of this vibrant community here in Buffalo, one that really values tradition.
Q: How does it feel to see the Broadway Market busy at Easter and do you wish it was like that all year?
A: We love to see everyone come out to the Broadway Market for Easter, but we really do wish people would continue to embrace this wonderful place, rich with history and culture, all year round. It’s sad that some people think the market is only open this time of year.
We hope people plan to come back when it’s not Easter time. It would be great for all these small, family businesses and the surrounding neighborhood that has been neglected a little when we talk about the renaissance that Buffalo is in.
Q: How do you plan to expand the business in the future?
A: We plan to continue to grow our wedding and custom cakes. We also host cake and cupcake decorating classes for both kids and adults. We are also putting our authentic pierogi into more and more retail stores so look for us.
INFO: E.M. Chrusciki. Locations: 999 Broadway (the Broadway Market), 80 W. Drullard Ave. in Lancaster, and 100 College Pkwy., Amherst. 681-9866.
*Read Elizabeth Carey's interview from last week: