Meat and great! Polish standby provides beer, kielbasa to G’wood Heights

Meat and great! Polish standby provides beer, kielbasa to G’wood Heights
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

These guys brought the beer to the sausage fest.

The grocery store Eagle Provisions has been serving up fresh kielbasa to Greenwood Heights residents for 75 years and, since the current owners took over in 1979, the store’s beer selection has expanded to Oktoberfest proportions. The inventory shift ensures that neighborhood newcomers can find just the brew they are looking for while searching the area for less meaty fare, a proprietor said.

“It’s changed completely,” said John Zawisny, who owns the store with his brother Richard. “It used to be a lot of families coming here to do their shopping. Now the neighborhood’s all hummus, veggie hotdogs, and beer.”

The Zawisnys took over the business after learning the supermarket trade at Pathmark. They also had some help from their father, who had worked for what was then called White Eagle Market for 18 years.

When the brothers first bought the store, they carried four kinds of Belgian beer, because that was all that was available. But as distributors started offering steadily more varieties of beer, John Zawisny added to Eagle’s stock.

“One thing led to another,” Zawisny said. “Now we have over 2,500 different beers.”

The store keeps up with the times on social media too. Whenever a new type of beer comes in, it sends out a tweet to let devoted customers know.

“It’s like a cult thing. We put it on Twitter and they come running,” Zawisny said.

In addition to all of the beer, which takes up half the store, Eagle also carries a variety of, well, provisions. The kielbasa is smoked on the premises a couple of times per week and the kitchen also dishes up homemade hotdogs and potato pancakes. The eats are meant to keep Polish culture alive in the neighborhood, Zawisny said.

“It’s our tradition. It’s our culture. It’s the reason we started here,” he said. “Our father wanted us to have a Polish business.”

The area is changing, but Eagle Provisions remains the only place around offering its combination of suds and sausages, he said.

“It’s a niche,” Zawisny said. “We’re the only place you can get this stuff.”

Eagle Provisions [628 Fifth Ave. between 17th and 18th streets in Greenwood Heights, (718) 499–0026].

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260-8310. E-mail him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.