Our On The Map series this week explores the connection between community and culture, and how some unique cultures have been the basis for central and northern Michigan communities.
My first stop was Krzysiak’s House- a family owned restaurant that serves authentic Polish food and traditional American cuisine.
“We have become a destination. And because of everybody I mean we’re known from here too you know what I mean.If you say our name way down past Detroit.”
That’s Jeanne Preston. She’s a family member and has worked at the restaurant for over 30 years.
Preston said the murals are actual photos taken in Poland by the restaurant’s owner.
“And if you look people really appreciate I think when they come in here that’s what they love more than anything. Is looking at the murals and of course as you see the Polish music that’s going.”
Preston said Bay City is rich with Polish heritage.
“Especially here when you get into the south end of Bay City It’s a lot of people that with Polish heritage and that a lot of them with the catholic religion.”
Preston is right. Faith does play an important role in Bay City’s Polish community, as I learned during a visit to Our Lady of Czestochowa Catholic Parish.
The parish is home to The Tri City Polish Heritage Society. The society helps promote and carry on traditions that have been around for a thousand years.
It also gives an outlet for people who speak the Polish language. It’s even planning a trip to Poland next month for Bay City residents wanting to better connect with their heritage.
Back at Kryziak’s House.Preston says it’s the only restaurant of it’s kind in Bay City -serving Polish food. She says the restaurant is a kind of a pillar for the community.
“I think it means a lot for the community because they have a place that actually serves up Polish food that they’re after. And they can come listen to Polish music. And they want everything authentic and they have it here with us.”
Preston mentioned Kryziaks wasn’t always the only well-known place with Polish heritage tied to it. She says an important piece of history closed down last year.
“Pulaski Hall, yes that was a very that was sort of sad for Bay City. Because. It was very famous hall. And a lot of weddings took place there And all the Polka bands.”
The closing of the hall speaks to the changes Bay City has seen over the years.
Jill Kryziaks is the restaurant manager’s wife.. She thinks the restaurant will stand the test of time.
“I think it means a lot to the people that live around here. That there’s still someone standing that there’s still some place they can go and feel their heritage and be apart of that community.”
Food, faith and friendship seem to be the theme in Bay City’s Polish community. And places like Kryziak’s and the Parish are helping to put Bay City On The Map.