On National Pierogi Day, Lauren Gorney tells us about her family’s new pierogi business in Luzerne County.
LUZERNE COUNTY — Pennsylvanians have enjoyed pierogi for decades, but not like this. A new family-owned and -operated business in Luzerne County is spicing things up.
Lauren Gorney and her boyfriend Frank Marcinkowski have strong Polish roots, and grew up pinching pierogi at home. Now young adults, they’ve turned tradition into profit with NEPA’rogi.
“We realized we had a lot of fun making these recipes with our family. This is Frank’s mother’s recipe,” Gorney said. “And that this was something we had to pick up the torch on.”
The couple, with the help of their families, started serving fresh pierogi out of a food truck in April of this year, and opened a brick and mortar location last month.
Gorney, who has a background in communications and marketing, says she and others in her family were among the millions of Americans who lost their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic. This gave them the time to start NEPA’rogi.
Many Pennsylvanians started a business during the pandemic. According to the US Census, PA small business applications in July 2020 almost doubled the average monthly amount, and continue to be above average.
The families had success selling pierogi they made at home for Christmas 2020. With those proceeds, they bought a food truck.
“We kind of put a new fresh twist on the fun of making pierogi and then getting people of all generations excited about it by doing traditional plus these really fun feature flavors,” Gorney said.
The business creates a savory and sweet feature flavor each month. This fall, NEPA’rogi is making pumpkin pie and sweet potato pierogi.
The traditional flavors at NEPA’rogi include potato and cheese and farmer’s cheese. Their signature blend is new this week. It has sauerkraut, cabbage, and caramelized onion.
The full staff of 10 “pinchers” works long hours, pinching thousands of pierogies a week with dough they make fresh daily. The food truck has been busy traveling to local events and even weddings.
“People are loving pierogi as their late night snack, so I’ve had these excited brides calling asking if we can make different flavors, like bride and groom favorites, and we show up with the trailer and give them the full NEPA’rogi experience,” Gorney said.
The NEPA’rogi family hopes the business lasts 100 years. Gorney says they’ve received a lot of community support from other family-owned businesses, too, and thanks the Tarnowski’s Kielbasa family for allowing them to sublet their space.
“They gave us the opportunity to open a brick and mortar at their kielbasa shop, which is like the best of both worlds,” said Gorney. “It doesn’t feel competitive at all, it feels encouraging and they want to see us win. And I don’t think I could express my gratitude enough.”