Pierogi lovers of Canberra, I am the bearer of bad news. After six-and-a-bit glorious years of plump, tasty dumplings, Polo Restaurant is closing its doors.
Owners Fiona and Adam Veikkanen have announced on social media they’re closing their doors tomorrow – and their final night is already booked out.
“Recently, the hospitality industry has been hard hit, and despite overwhelming support from this incredible community, unfortunately, we have made the extremely difficult decision to close our doors,” they posted.
Speaking to Region Media, Fiona said: “I’m just so thankful for our regular customers and our gorgeous staff members and to the Polish Club for the opportunity to run a business even though we had no prior experience.”
The family-run restaurant, which opened in 2015, operated independently inside the Polish White Eagle Club in Turner.
The club has been open since 1973 and has been proudly pokie-free since 2007. The Club Bar and Live at The Polo gigs will continue in 2022.
Polo Restaurant (known simply as ‘The Polo’) has been a favourite thanks to its focus on local ingredients and fresh flavours. Pierogi fillings like kangaroo, beetroot and rose-hip were certainly not traditionally Polish, but they proved popular among a loyal customer base.
After the social media announcement, it took only 90 minutes for the last frozen pierogi packs to sell out.
I count myself among the many fans of The Polo. I have plenty of happy memories drinking long necks of Polish beer among the eclectic decor of retro furniture, macrame plant holders and portraits of the Pope.
I first came for the ‘Pint and Pierogi’ nights, and since then, I’ve cheered for local musicians at gigs with a mouth stuffed full of pork and fennel dumplings and queued up on Saturday mornings to grab a couple of paczkis – Polish jam doughnuts – from the fortnightly bake sale to share with my friends.
But my love of pierogi and The Polo is perhaps best summed up by this memory: in the summer of 2020, as bushfires raged and smoke filled the air, my housemate and I cooked up a big breakfast of all our frozen pierogi to avoid them defrosting and spoiling in the forecast power outages.
It seemed like the apocalypse was upon us, but our first priority was to save the pierogi!
Fiona and Adam are taking a well-earned break for now but encouraged people to follow them on social media.
“We’re going to take some time to rest and recharge,” said Fiona.
“We’re going to be keeping our eyes out for opportunities, and we’ll see what happens.”
It may be a sad day for the pierogi lovers of Canberra, but we can look forward to finding out what comes next.
The Polish White Eagle Club is located at 38 David Street, Turner. The Club Bar is open Wednesday to Saturday from 5 pm to 10 pm.