LOST VILLAGE PIEROGI
When Mike and Holly Kotz had a bad experience with pierogi at a brew pub, they figured they could do better and started making their own pierogi at home. Then they entered a friend’s Christmas party food contest taking first place for both the main dish (chicken fajita pierogi) and dessert (cheesecake pierogi) categories. Friends started asking them to make pierogi, and the outcome was a full time business – Lost Village Pierogi.
The two recently moved their business into Cookie Chicks, 3979 West River Dr. in downtown Comstock Park, and joined the growing kitchen co-op there.
“(We) were working out of a kitchen in Lowell which was too far from our home,” said Mike, adding their client base was primarily in the Grand Rapids/Comstock Park/Westside area.
They have over 16 varieties of pierogi which they rotate through making 350 dozen a week. Varieties include the potato & cheddar (a best seller), kielbasa & kraut, and sweet farmer cheese, as well as spinach & feta, stuffed cabbage, and ham gouda macaroni and cheese.
“We began as West Michigan Polish Catering in early 2017,” said Holly, but the demand for our pierogi became so great that we changed our focus to only pierogi and became Lost Village Pierogi.”
The two are at the Rockford and Muskegon Farmer’s Markets on a regular basis. They also ship and deliver their pierogi locally, and ship them nationwide. They have pierogi available at their shop as well as at Lewandoski's Market & the new Bridge Street Market in Grand Rapids.
Mike is half Polish and grew up watching his family cook Polish food. He has fond childhood memories of his grandmother and aunts making pierogi every Christmas. That memory led to the name Lost Village Pierogi and the slogan on their business cards – “Honor the Dead/Feed the Living.”
“In our hustle and bustle life, we are losing our traditions,” said Mike. “By providing you with our pierogi we are not only honoring those who have gone before us, but we are feeding the living and passing the torch on to future generations”
“We both love seeing people enjoy the food we make for them…those who have never had or even heard of a pierogi and are instantly in love, and those who have grown up with pierogi, you can see them re-live their family memories with each bite.,” said Mike.
The two enjoy being involved in community events such as the Comstock Park Homecoming Parade and annual craft show and donate to the Food Share Pantry program. They advertise on Facebook and Instagram as well as on Polka Pops radio and have appeared on Fox 17.
Before they started their business, Mike was a graphic artist and screen printer, and Holly was a high school English teacher in Comstock Park. They live in Grand Rapids and have a full house - a daughter 18, and a son 16 who works with them, as well as a mini Australian shepherd named Oscar and a budgee parakeet named Bird Dog.
DAVID'S HEAVY DUTY TOOL SALES
David Martin has a guiding principle when making decisions, including the decision to open his own business. “I only do something if it’s a help, a blessing, to other people,” said David, owner of David’s Heavy Duty Tool Sales, 3911 Leland St. in downtown Comstock Park. David sells diagnostic equipment for diesel engines. His business specializes in heavy duty repair tools. They provide diagnostic software, hardware, and laptop kits for every diesel engine. The technology diagnoses an engine issue and the necessary repairs. “If you have a part that’s bad, you need special tools to replace the part,” explained David. “We sell the tools.”
His sales area is the United States and Canada. David said that he tries to make sure the tools he sells are manufactured in North America and noted, “That’s a big thing to my customers. Most of my customers are blue collar guys, and they want the best,” said David. “They know tools made here keep each other working."
Since he got out of the Marines thirty years ago, David has worked in sales, starting in a record shop in Yuma, Arizona. He said the shop was the first in the area to sell CDs. Since then he has sold everything from jewelry, to computers and hi-tech equipment, and has worked in the mortgage industry.
He was hired in 2011 by a company that sells diagnostic equipment for diesel engines like he currently sells. A little over a year ago, he got the itch to go into business for himself and opened David’s Heavy Duty Tool Sales operating it out of his home. His son Trevor was living at home after serving in the Marines, and David hired him. As business grew and he hired more employees, it became awkward having people coming and going at home, and in April of this year he leased his current 1000 square foot space. Since he has no physical product on site, the space is all office area. There are now five employees including David who do everything from sales, to running the day-to-day operations.
A large part of David’s job involves traveling to customers especially along the southern trucking corridor through Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Kansas. He said he doesn’t have to advertise, and he just does trade shows, David prides himself in customizing his service to offer often hard to find specialized products.
David, who is originally from Grand Rapids, graduated from West Catholic High School and went into the Marine Corp shortly after that. His wife Lisa (Giglio), is from Comstock Park. She also went to West Catholic High School and is the parish secretary for Holy Family Catholic Church in Sparta. The two live in Comstock Park. They have four grown children including Trevor who still works in his father’s business. When he’s not working, David likes off-roading in his jeep, camping, and fishing.