By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Aug 30, 2022 at 8:01 AM

Since 1983, Polonez has been a staple in the Milwaukee dining scene, serving up a menu of traditional Polish dishes from pierogi and borscht to stuffed cabbage rolls, dill pickle soup and delicacies like bigos (hunter’s stew) and czarnina (duck blood soup).  

However, after nearly 40 years of service, owners Aleksandra and George Burzynski are taking the opportunity to retire. As a result, the restaurant will observe its final day of service at 4016 S. Packard Ave. on Sunday, Sept. 25.

Peter Burzynski, who has worked alongside his parents to operate the longtime family restaurant, says that closing the restaurant will offer his parents a much needed break after dedicating the better part of their lives to sharing their culture and recipes with the public. 

“It has gotten very difficult for them,” he says. “My dad is 74 and he’s been working 12 hours a day six days a week just to prepare for service. And my mother still takes care of all of the books for the business.” 

Burzynski, who has been helping out at the restaurant since he was 10 years old, says that many customers have wondered why he hasn’t chosen to continue operating the restaurant in his parents’ stead.   

“My parents worked so hard for all of these years,” he says, “But their American dream wasn’t for themselves. It was for their children. They worked so hard because they wanted us to be able to pursue our passions. And that's what I'll be doing.

“My sister, Maria [Hintzke] is a hematopathologist at Froedtert Hospital. And I’ve spent my free time over the years earning two master’s degrees (in creative writing and Polish literature), along with a Ph.D. in creative writing. I work full time at Woodland Pattern bookstore and I also teach part-time at MATC. So, I’ll be happy to have only two jobs… and to be able to pursue my passion for literature and writing full time. Meanwhile, my parents are very much looking forward to being full time grandparents.”

A fond farewell to loyal customers

Closing a restaurant always brings mixed emotions, and closing Polonez after nearly four decades is no exception. In fact, the Burzynskis wanted to be sure there was time to thank long-term customers by giving them the opportunity to stop by and say farewell to the restaurant.

“We wanted to give our customers an opportunity to get a last taste,” Burzynski says. “People have such fond memories of this place, made over the course of so many years, and we’re so grateful to everyone. People have come – not only from Southeastern Wisconsin, but from across the U.S. – to dine with us over the years. And we’re so grateful to the community for their love and support.”

Beginning on Thursday, Sept. 1, the restaurant will shift to a limited menu of buffet options and side dishes, all of which can be enjoyed for either dine-in or carry-out. Pricing for the buffet will be $22 for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and $25 for dinner from 2 to 8 p.m.; with pricing at $11/$12.50 for children under 12 years of age. Carry-out orders both large and small for items like pierogi and cabbage rolls are also welcome. 

“We’ve had an incredible outpouring of support from our customers,” he says. “And the phone has literally been ringing off the hook. We’ve even had someone order stuffed cabbage rolls to put away in their freezer for Christmas.”

To make things more manageable, Burzynski respectfully requests that customers submit their requests for reservations and pre-orders by email at

Polonez will be open Thursday and Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday from 4 to 8 p.m.; Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. The last seating will be at 7:45 p.m. daily.

New play cafe on the way

Sunday, Sept. 25 will not only mark the final day of service for Polonez as a restaurant, but also the closing date for the building, which will be sold to Tim and Jamie Griffith. The Griffiths have plans to establish the Taxi and Tide Play Cafe.

Burzynski says that the City Council recently approved zoning for the new business, which will offer imaginative play for children ages 10 and younger, along with classes, art workshops and birthday parties for toddlers and younger school-aged children.

As an homage to the longtime Polish restaurant, Burzynski says that the Griffiths plan to design one of their play areas around a restaurant theme, which will be decorated with items like pierogi.

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.