After more than twelve years, Halgo European Deli & Groceries, an inconspicuous Polish market at the corner of Highway 54 and South Alston, has closed its doors.
Owner Zbigniew “Ziggy” Gorzkowski says that the decision has been in the works for a year, as he and his wife, co-owner Halina Gozkowski, prepare to retire.
The customer base has thinned over the years, but he says that the news of closure has nevertheless evoked an outpouring of support from the customers who have visited over the years. Many of them were from Eastern Europe and sought out the store for a taste of home.
“We’ve gotten a lot of comments, a lot of emails,” Zbigniew Gorzkowski told the INDY over the phone from Halgo’s, where he and Halina were cleaning out shelves. “A lot of people are disappointed. It makes me feel better.”
The Gorzkowkis emigrated from Poland to New Jersey in 1983, where Zgbiniew worked as a limousine driver and Halina worked part-time in restaurants, first washing dishes, then as a server. Their occupations, Gorzkowski says, had something in common: “working with people.”
Halgo’s European Deli & Grocery, which the pair opened in 2007 upon moving to North Carolina, was a way to combine their love of food and people. By stocking select products from New Jersey—where there is a large Polish population—they were able to carve out a niche market in the Triangle. Over the past decade, Gorzkowski has made several hundred drives to New Jersey to pick up sausages, pierogi, twice-smoked kielbasa, cheeses, Polish sweets, and other items to crowd the deli’s refrigerators and shelves.
The signature Halgo sandwich, ham and smoked bacon on rye bread, came with a pickle and a Polish cookie. The deli only served takeout—there were only six parking spots, so it was never built for a crowd—but the Gorzkowskis had a reputation for getting customers to stick around. If the number of meat, cheese, and mustard selections was overwhelming, they were ready to walk customers through them, transmitting their love of Polish culture along the way.
In mid-May, the Gorzkowskis posted a notice, written in Polish on their website, that let customers know they had retired.
The current voicemail for the store echoes that message, offering a final word of goodwill to customers: “We wish you a lot of health and happiness.”
Contact deputy arts and culture editor Sarah Edwards at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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