A taste of Krakow coming to Magnolia

Restaurant owner Stanislaw Stachowski (left) chats with chef Mirko Loeffler in the kitchen.
Restaurant owner Stanislaw Stachowski (left) chats with chef Mirko Loeffler in the kitchen. (AKIRA SUWA / Staff Photographer)
Posted: October 11, 2013

Stanislaw "Stosh" Stachowski's dream started taking shape on a humdrum stretch of The White Horse Pike three years ago.

By the end of October, Royal Cracovia - his ambitious, elaborate, and unusual restaurant, bar, and bakery (please don't call it a diner) - should be open at last.

"This is Europe," Stachowski, 55, declares, standing in the grand entrance of his $3.5 million, 16,000-square-foot, 250-seat establishment. "It's Krakow. In Magnolia."

He's right. The expansive, earth-toned extravaganza of quarry-cut stone, glassy granite, and red oak, of state-of-the-art pizza ovens and custom-made dessert cases, does manage to suggest the Continent, as well as Camden County. (The menu will include cheesesteak pierogis.)

"This is unique," says Stachowski, a professional tenor-turned-builder who was born in the suburbs of cosmopolitan Krakow in 1958, first visited the United States in 1985, and immigrated in 1997.

He lives in Cherry Hill, down the block from Juan Canales, a hospitality professional, originally from Puerto Rico, whom he hired as Royal Cracovia's general manager. Chef Mirko Loeffler is German-born and Italian-trained.

"It's like the United Nations in here," publicist Peter Breslow observes, accurately. He provides me a copy of the menu; it goes on for miles and includes Polish, German, Italian, Russian, Scandinavian, and even Mexican dishes and/or influences.

The Polish specialties, Stachowski explains, "are from my mother," Zofia, who's 75 and lives in Poland.

Thus the menu for her son's restaurant includes a list of "Babcia's [Grandmom's] Cooking," in which meat loaf, dumplings, and onion gravy figure prominently.

"Stosh wanted a concept that not only had impeccable qualities of design and decor - he's got a quarry's worth of stone here - but one that feels as if it's in the center of Krakow," Breslow adds.

"This beautiful place I put together is from the immigrant experience," Stochowski says. "It's what they brought over here, what they cooked. It's where your roots are coming from."

The 1.5-acre Cracovia site is across from a Walmart shopping center (most of which lies in Somerdale) and formerly held a Bonanza steak house, which became the Magnolia Diner, which closed.

The property was in foreclosure when a friend in real estate told Stachowski about it. He says that while he got a good deal, the old diner kitchen "looked like Jurassic Park."

So he had to build from the ground up, paying for construction "from my own pocket" until a bank loan enabled Royal Cracovia's completion.

"We cannot wait for it to open," says BettyAnn Cowling-Carson, mayor of the blue-collar borough of 4,300, which calls itself "one square mile . . . of friendliness." She has lived in Magnolia for 40 of her 53 years.

"We are so excited," Cowling-Carson adds. "Royal Cracovia could change the whole atmosphere of The White Horse Pike. It could attract new businesses and economic development."

Adds Stachowski, "People said to me, 'Magnolia, Magnolia . . . who's going to come?' I said, 'Wait a minute. I'm going to change this image.' This is going to be the center of this town, the center of this street."

He also expects Royal Cracovia to appeal to people from all sorts of ethnic backgrounds, as well as folks pulling in off the pike for bacon and eggs and a cup of joe.

And Stachowski particularly hopes to attract support for an preopening fund-raiser Oct. 24 for Durand Academy, the Woodbury school for special-needs students that his daughter attends.

Veronica, 14, doesn't speak. But her dad says that when he brings her to Royal Cracovia, "she smiles and makes beautiful movements with her hands, like, 'Bravo.'"


BY THE NUMBERS

$3.5 million

Cost of Cracovia.

16,000

Square feet of restaurant.

250

Number of seats.


kriordan@phillynews.com

856-779-3845 @inqkriordan

www.inquirer.com/blinq

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