Restaurant to feature fresh, local, homemade healthy food

Soon there will be a new kid on the block offering fresh, local, homemade nutritious food like the “olden” days.

Renata Konopka, owner of the Inn of Seven Gables has bought the building of the former Pisoma Kitchen and plans to open Cafe Euro, a family style, casual dinning restaurant.

Originally slated to open in early 2014, several setbacks have delayed the planned January opening and a specific opening date has not yet been set.

The cafe will feature a completely remodeled exterior and interior to include a new look with new paint and a black awning with gold lettering outside displaying the name of the café. Inside diners will be treated to new tables, booths, chairs, paint, dinnerware and silverware.

Currently plans are to be open for lunch and dinner, but if the need is there, Renata said she is open to the idea of expanding to serve breakfast.

While a specific menu has not yet been set in stone, she said menu items would include old-fashioned, home cooked meals.

“Nothing specific has been set yet, but a combination of family style meals including burgers, fries and entrees,” Renata said. “I’m planning on having daily specials for lunch and dinner, but regular menu items will also be available including several dishes from European countries.”

One thing Renata wanted to stress is that this restaurant will be different in that everything will be homemade and baked goods such as pastries and breads will be baked on the spot.

Renata said it has been a long-time dream for her to open a restaurant.

“I love to cook and serve. The passion of my cooking shows in the dishes I prepare,” she said. “I hope when the restaurant is open people will appreciate the homemade goodness and the family atmosphere.”

Renata said Polish and American kitchens are very similar and she feels bringing a European flavor to Sleepy Eye will be new and exciting. However, Renata added, the food served will be mainly American fare with several Polish cuisines for people to try.

Some of the Polish cuisine Renata would like to introduce includes cabbage rolls, made from scratch from Renata’s grandma’s old world recipe and perogis.

Perogis, Renata explained, are pastry dough dumplings that can be filled with just about anything and everything. She has even found a factory in Chicago where Perogis are made entirely from scratch on a daily basis.

“I want to go back to the basics where I serve fresh, hot and made from scratch food daily,” she added.

Originally Renata said she had looked into the option of opening a restaurant on the property of the Inn of Seven Gables, but the venture turned out to be far more expensive than buying a building and remodeling it.

Renata said her passion for cooking good food came from her grandma back in Poland.

“I remember being four-years-old sitting at the big kitchen table we had next to the stove watching my grandma cook,” Renata said. “Growing up in that era my grandma found ways to make the most delicious meals from limited ingredients.”

In addition, Renata’s father owned a polish restaurant and store in California as well as a meat factory where he made polish sausage, hams and different styles of Canadian bacon.

Renata has lived in Sleepy Eye and owned the Inn of Seven Gables for the past 11 years, but coming to America was a journey she took 25-years-ago.

“It was always my dream to come to America,” Renata said, adding that in Poland she was prohibited from receiving a passport to any other country. She began training in the sport of Kayaking and was granted a passport to compete for the Seoul Olympics.

Unfortunately, several months before competition she sustained a career-ending injury that ended her dream of competing at the Olympics. But afforded her the opportunity to move to America.

“I always think of the saying, “what does not kill you makes you stronger.” My life experiences have made me stronger and more determined to do better and serve and help and be kind. We need to go back to the basics in our lifestyles and that’s what I want as the core of the restaurant–the basics of homemade, fresh food,” Renata said.

She added that in her cooking she tries to appeal to the sense of sight, smell and taste. She hopes to accomplish this by making food that not only looks appealing, but smells delicious and tastes amazing.

“The eyes have to appreciate what they are seeing first. Then it will smell good and taste good. That’s my goal.”