PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The smell of homemade soup, stuffed cabbage, and kielbasa fill the small yet lively Eastern European deli as patrons send Maria Sekowski off on her journey in retirement.
Sekowski announced on her Facebook page in early October that she would be closing her doors at the end of the year with plans to retire.
Patrons expressed their congratulations but were greatly saddened by this loss to the community. Many customers said they are going to miss her welcoming and energetic personality.
The curtains will close on Sekowski's impromptu musical numbers and karaoke sessions. Music by Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Michael Bublé, and many others are fading and her new symphony into retirement begins.
Although Sekowski is going to miss her customers she is looking forward to spending time with her family. She is making plans to visit her daughter, who lives now in Kansas City, Mo., and her brother in New Jersey.
Her son is also expecting another child so she plans on helping him take care of her grandson as well as continuing to fulfill her responsibilities as the legal guardian of a 12-year old.
Unless the store receives an offer to buy the business, there will be another empty storefront on North Street.
"The store will close unless there's someone that would be interested in buying the business," Sekowski said in the post. "I want to thank you all for supporting my business throughout the years. Please support your local small businesses as there are too many empty storefronts.
Although someone had inquired about purchasing the store, she had not heard back earlier last week so its fate is unclear.
Although the idea of saving the store from closure is nice, she said there is nothing drawing people to North Street aside from the few popular attractions.
Foot traffic is not the only obstacle North Street business owners have to face, she said. Parking is a major issue that drives away patrons who become frustrated and give up after being unable to find a space.
Those who are able to find a parking space on North Street then have to avoid walking into the flowerbeds, she said.
In December 2007, Sekowski's husband, Krzysztof "Kris" opened Maria's European Delights in Great Barrington after being let go from Rising Paper Co., where he worked as a beater operator for 20 years.
During this time she continued working at Brazabra Corp. in Lee and would help out on weekends until May of 2008. She quit her job and joined him.
The duo ran the restaurant together building relationships with customers and, in 2013, they moved the business to Pittsfield.
Kris died a year later. Since then, Sekowski has been running the business on her own.
"It would be nice if somebody had bought it and continued," she said but added it is a lot of work for a single person.
"[It would] be a nice thing for a couple. For one person that's, that's too much. Would be nice for a family and it would prevent another storefront from being empty on North Street."
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EforAll Showcase and Gala at Hot Plate Brewing Company
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Entrepreneurship for All Berkshire County will celebrate the nine graduates of the 2023 Spring Accelerator Program and award nearly $7,000 in seed capital at their Showcase and Gala at Hot Plate Brewing Company on Thursday, June 8 at 5:30pm.
Entrepreneurship for All Berkshire County (EforAll) began its seventh Accelerator in February 2023 and will celebrate the nine businesses who have completed this intensive program. They spent 12 weeks learning from experts on a variety of topics about business. With the help of 27 volunteer mentors, the entrepreneurs have developed their plans to build and sustain their businesses.
The ceremony will feature pitches from nine graduates, a speech presented by one of the graduating cohort members, and distribution of the $7,000 prize pool. Prior to the ceremony, the graduates have been invited to table and showcase their businesses as well as sell goods between 5:30pm and 6:30pm. The ceremony will begin at 6:30pm.
The event will begin at 5:30pm on Thursday, June 8.
These kits include outlet covers, a rubber duck that ensure that bath water is at the right temperature, and pamphlets with tips for new mothers after being discharged from the hospital.
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