-For Discover Parkland-
Bruno’s European restaurant is a café right off highway 512 in Parkland. Husband and wife owners Bruno and Krystyna are famous for their speatzles, frikadelles, and “hangover soup”.
The restaurant was recognized nation-wide this last February when it was featured on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives”. Since their stint with fame the restaurant has gotten even busier than before. In addition to the bustling business, Bruno’s new cookbook will be published this fall.
Bruno and wife Krystyna immigrated to the United States years ago from Poland and Germany. Their restaurant specializes in a unique blend of Polish and German dishes. After crossing the Atlantic, they settled first in New Jersey before coming to Lakewood. The business moved to Parkland when Bruno and Krystyna decided the restaurant needed a more intimate feel.
“We were looking for a space no bigger than 50 seats,” explained Krystyna, “[Bruno] said when it’s bigger then it’s not anymore made from scratch. For big crowd you have to use ready-to-use things, it’s hard to do everything- peel potatoes, celery roots, everything- so he said 50 to 75 [seats] max.”
Bruno and Krystyna credit their success to their standard that everything they sell is prepared from scratch.
“We had a young fellow who came as back cook and he said to me after maybe two hours of peeling carrots and chopping vegetables, ‘Krystyna, maybe Bruno doesn’t know this, but he can buy ready-to-use carrots already chopped!’” Kristina recalled, laughing. “I said, ‘He knows!’”
Although they stress a small restaurant style, Bruno’s is planning on making a small extension in their building. With their recent popularity, Friday and Saturday nights have become too crowded. The Tomashevskys want to add room for a few extra tables and chairs.
Many of their clients are fellow immigrants. For these customers, Bruno’s European restaurant is one of the only places they can receive authentic European food.
“We get a lot of compliments that we take care of this traditional food,” said Krystyna, who admitted that finding extra help in the kitchen was hard, because so few know how to cook eastern European dishes.
Krystyna made it a point to thank every customer for coming in to the restaurant. She explained that these visitors are more than just patrons.
“We have maybe 10 or 20 [regulars] which come every day,” said Krystyna. “We have a couple who always has meatloaves, we have a couple who always has frikadelles, so it’s nice. They’re wonderful, we feel like they are our neighbors or family.”
The Food Network heard about the small, friendly, family-owned restaurant and asked if they could film Bruno in the kitchen. Bruno was hesitant; he did not consider himself a public person. Krystyna, who helps in the kitchen and manages many of the business aspects of the restaurant, saw the opportunity the coverage would provide.
The show highlighted Bruno’s frikadelles and “hangover” soup. Like all menu items at Bruno’s, hangover soup is made entirely from scratch. Bruno even makes his own pickles, a feat “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” host Guy Fieri was floored by.
But does hangover soup really cure hangovers? According to the Tomashevskys and multiple patrons, the answer is yes.
“We had a customer I will never forget, a young gentleman who came in the morning,” recalled Krystyna, laughing. “One day he comes in and says, “Krystyna, excuse me, how big container do you have in your restaurant?’ I say, ’32 ounces, what is this for?’ He says, ‘For hangover soup! Please, today give me the whole, I really need!’”
Hangover soup has become a staple at Bruno’s, but comes in second for best-selling item.
“Speatzle, speatzle number 1!” exclaimed Krystyna.
As the couple grew accustomed to their 12-14 hour work days, Bruno found the time to compile 80 recipes and create a 120 page cookbook. Many of the recipes were passed down through his family and tweaked by the chef.
Whether publishing an original cookbook, being featured on the Food Network, or curing hangovers, the ma-and-pa restaurant keeps busy in all that they do.