Many people may not know what a piroshky is, but customers at the Piroshky Piroshky bakery in Seattle’s Pike Place Market are in love with these traditionally Eastern European pastries.
“A piroshky is generally a savory pie filled with any number of different fillings,” Piroshky Piroshky owner Oliver Kotelnikov explains.
Kotelnikov’s family is from Russia and Estonia. His father was also a baker, so he grew up with both culinary influences.
Piroshky Piroshky puts a twist on traditional fare and adds an American flair. Kotelnikov says the recipes come from anybody, including the bakery’s employees and even its customers.
“We have traditional things… like the cabbage and onion savory filling is very traditional Russian. And then we have the smoked salmon pate one. It's shaped like a fish. It has a lox smoked salmon, which is kind of a northwest influence.”
He explains that the bakery got its name because of how piroshky used to be sold in Russia.
“They walked around and yell[ed], like at a ballgame someone would yell, ‘peanuts, peanuts.’ They'd go, ‘piroshky, piroshky.’”
Kotelnikov’s family opened the bakery about two decades ago, but he took over the business in 2005.
He admits owning a small business does come with some challenges, like working in small quarters. Piroshky Piroshky is only 355 square feet.
“We have over 20 employees. I'd say ten are here on any given day, just physically being close in a really small space. We have hot ovens, pans coming out…100 different things going on at the same time,” Kotelnikov explains.
And creating a menu that people want to continue to come back to is also an art.
“Some things you think are going to be a success, and they completely flop and vice versa. So, tailoring the menu to what it is today literally has taken 20 years, and it still changes.”
But what they are doing clearly has customers coming back for more. Katey Proefke came all the way from San Francisco to get a piroshky.
“I used to live here about seven or eight years ago. I used to come every weekend to get them,” Proefke says. “And my daughter moved up here and went to school at the University of Washington, and she loves them. She’s living in Washington D.C., and she sent me here on a mission today to come and get piroshky to send to her!”