When lakes area residents crave mouth-watering Polish fare such as stuffed cabbage, pasties, pierogies or dill pickle soup, there’s only one restaurant that comes to mind — Dobski’s in Waterford Township. Dobski’s, a lakes area institution since 1958, is still drawing patrons and is able to maintain a regular customer base despite the constraints of the economy.
While the restaurant has stockpiled a slew of awards, most recently it received accolades as the WDIV Click On Detroit “2011 Best Polish” restaurant in metro Detroit.
“It’s exciting to get this award because we were in competition with places in Hamtramck,” said Co-owner and Co-General Manager Patrice Brezner.
Initially the bar/restaurant was located at the corner of Williams Lake and Cooley Lake roads in the Union Lake neighborhood. The Dobski family sold it to Ron and Patrice Brezner in 1993. It was uncharted territory for the Brezners, who purchased the establishment without any prior restaurant experience.
“We were both in the computer business and looked at the opportunity as a business venture,” said Ron Brezner. “To be successful we talk with customers to see what they do and don’t like.”
“It was more of a bar than a restaurant, so when we took it over we wanted it to be more of a restaurant,” he said. “We kept the same menu and added more items.”
For example, there was a beef pastie on the menu, but the Brezners added a chicken pastie, as well as more Polish fare that they carried over to the new restaurant at its current location at 6565 Cooley Lake Road.
Apart from Polish specialties, the menu boasts of a wide variety of pasta, chicken, beef, appetizers, salads, sandwiches, burgers, and wraps, all of which are made in-house.
Vegetarian and gluten-free dishes are available on request.
The Brezners closed the original restaurant in March 2003 and found the new site in 2006.
“We kept the name because it’s a landmark here,” Patrice said.
The new 6,000-square-foot building opened in July 2007, and it immediately began winning beautification awards. In 2008, it won the “Keep Michigan Beautiful” award and a beautification award from the Waterford Chamber of Commerce.
The facility seats 150 patrons, and it has a banquet facility and cozy amenities like a stone fireplace.
“People love it,” Patrice said. “Dobski’s is a long-standing tradition in Waterford. Generations come in here — it’s family-oriented.”
The Brezners like to pay attention to the details that make their patrons regard Dobski’s as their home away from home.
“We do little things like change the coffee cups based on the season during Christmas, spring, fall and Valentine’s Day for that homey feeling, and people come in to see how we’ve decorated the place,” Patrice said.
Currently they have a staff of 26 employees. The Brezners are fixtures in the restaurant as hands-on owners.
“Even though we are general managers, everyone holds equal weight around here,” Patrice said. “If one person doesn’t show up, you find just how important that person is.”
Dobski’s prides itself on fresh, homemade food. Everyday there are specials their clientele relishes.
“Our stuffed cabbage is our No. 1 best seller,” Ron said. “We make over 1,200 a month.”
Other favorites include the Friday fish fry, pierogies, the Polish platter or Polish trio, and homemade bread pudding topped with a whiskey butter sauce.
Despite the lagging economy in southeast Michigan, Dobski’s continues to do its part in the community at large.
“We buy 80 percent of our meats and chicken from Marketplace Meats down the road — we’ve had a great relationship with them for 15 years,” Ron said. “We want to keep our community thriving by shopping local and supporting local and independent business, otherwise no one will survive.”
The Brezners are also known for their fund-raising efforts in the community, and donations to schools and local institutions including the Open Door Outreach Center. In an effort to help Open Door through February, Dobski’s will be selling paper hearts that will be displayed throughout the restaurant. Last year they raised $1,800 to benefit Open Door.
The Brezners also adopted a stretch of Cooley Lake Road to pick up litter in order to help keep the surrounding environment up to their standards.
Dobski’s hours are Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sundays, noon to 9 p.m.
For more information, call 248-363-6565 or visit the Dobski’s website at www.dobski.com.