If you're planning on braving the sub-zero temperatures this Fat Tuesday to score a dozen paczki from New Palace Bakery in Hamtramck, chances are you'll run into Suzy Ognanovich. She's been bound to the glutinous pastries for the past 20 years, since marrying into the family-owned business.
This year, New Palace, which has been around for more than a century, added Alaska to the list of states it shipped to. For the bakers the pressure is on in the kitchen; the people here often work through the night around this time of year. Despite the chaos surrounding Paczki Day, Ognanovich is the calm who keeps the finely-tuned operation running.
Eater Detroit swung by New Palace last week and the shop was already buzzing with customers hauling the Polish treats out in boxes stacked one on top of the other. While she took care not to divulge too much detail about the making of her family's famous paczki, Ognanovich spent a moment behind the counter discussing the family business.
What sets New Palace paczki apart from the rest?
The bakers are all really protective about what goes into every batch. They can't have any distractions. With baking there's a chemistry to it, so they don't cut any corners. It takes 3 to 4 hours to make every batch and they put a lot of love into it.
It must take an extra set of hands to get the job done.
We have friends and family help, basically anyone we can recruit.
When does Paczki season start for the bakery?
We start shipping out orders a week before [Paczki Day], but really we start taking orders right after Christmas. For a lot of people, this is the next holiday after Christmas. They don't want to deal with the crowds, so they start planning early.
Where do you ship?
We take all sorts of orders. We send paczki to companies and corporations all over Metro Detroit, and we've shipped to all different states. The cut-off day is Wednesday, otherwise they get there too late. But if someone really wants some, we can arrange to send some the day after.
Has Paczki Day always been so popular?
It's always been our most busy time of the year, but the past few years it's really grown. I think everyone likes being a part of the tradition, they like being in the middle of the whole scene here. There are customers who've made friends while they're in line. They run into family members who they haven't seen each other in long time in our lines.
How do you manage this time of year?
I'm constantly thinking of a million things at once. It's all just a blur. There's so much work to be done. I won't rest until Wednesday.