Kowalski Deli serves its last meal


After over 50 years in operation, the Kowalski Deli on Jos. Campau will close next Wednesday. The company said it wants to concentrate more on its factory food products.



By Charles Sercombe

A Hamtramck landmark business is about close its doors for good.

A letter went out on Monday from the Kowalski Sausage Co. announcing that it is closing its deli on Jos. Campau, as well as three other delis in the metro area.

“After a long discussion we have concluded that the company should exit the retail store business and focus on our main purpose of producing great, high quality food,” said Michael Kowalski, president of the company, in a letter handed out to customers.

The deli has been in business for over 50 years.

Kowalski did not return a call for comment to The Review, nor has he returned other calls in previous years.

However, his sister, Linda Kowalski Jacob, talked with a Free Press reporter. In the interview, she said all store employees have been offered jobs in the company’s plants.

An employee in the Hamtramck store confirmed that, but said the plant work will be a lot harder on her body.

Kowalski is Hamtramck’s oldest business, having started in 1920. The Holbrook factory’s neon sign of a giant sausage has become a Hamtramck icon.

The company was once closely linked to the city, but in recent years the Kowalski family has become more and more distant to the social and government fabric of the community.

Kowalski recently looked into closing down the factory and relocating into the suburbs, but that deal apparently fell through. City officials are looking for a new space for the factory to relocate.

Or, the company may be considering to stay put and expand its existing factory. The company recently purchased several properties on Geimer St., near its plant, during a county tax sale.

Kowalski has been expanding its food product line to include frozen foods. It bought Homestyle Foods, a salad maker, and Dudek’s in recent years.

William Nemeth of Lumpkin St. has been a regular shopper at the deli, and although the company says its products can be found at many markets, he wonders if his favorites will be easily found.

“It’s no guarantee all their products are going to be there,” he said.

On the bright side of the deli closing is that it’s set up for a restaurant to step in, said Community & Economic Development Director Jason Friedmann.

“I have three or four people interested in the site,” he said.

Friedmann also said that Kowalski is planning to open a wholesale store at its plant site and possible a café.

13 Responses to Kowalski Deli serves its last meal

  1. Tammy Valentine

    September 9, 2019 at 1:55 pm

    I was born and raised in Livonia Michigan and then in 1958 I relocated to Hamtramck Michigan where I enjoyed eating Coney Islands at restaurants at different Coney Islands throughout the city. In 1991 I moved to Seattle Washington and cannot find any hot dogs that have the natural casings. They do have Kowalski sausage such as you know cabasa and beef sausage but they do not have the natural casings, not sure what happened and what’s going on. I would like to order a case of the Natural Casing Hot Dogs but if you changed your recipe or it’s no longer the natural casings then I would not buy them. Could someone reach out to me? Letting me know if it’s possible for Kowalski can ship the hotdogs to my now Houston, Texas address?
    Thank you!

  2. Maria foote

    August 13, 2020 at 9:38 am

    What ever happened to pickle loaf ate it since I was a little girl many moons ago can no longer find

  3. Bob coch

    September 26, 2020 at 3:53 pm

    Where can I get my Kowalski salads at Kroger quit carrying them

  4. Justin Shearer

    March 27, 2021 at 7:02 pm

    Is there a recipe for the Greek pasta salad that used to be sold at Kroger? My pregnant fiancé really wants some!

  5. Mickey Nazak

    July 6, 2021 at 9:17 pm

    I was hoping to find some place to buy your coleslaw. If not is there a recipe that may be available. Thank you for the years of good food.

  6. Diane

    August 12, 2021 at 11:37 am

    Why can’t we find red horseradish anywhere? I love it with my hard boiled eggs among other things. Are you still making it?

  7. Jerry Beck

    September 6, 2021 at 2:00 pm

    Finally found Kiszka but it’s not the same why did you change it? Been eating it for most of my 87 years.

  8. Sandra in Michigan

    February 11, 2022 at 2:46 pm

    From my grandmothers and extended family, cousins, siblings, children and grandchildren:
    We have enjoyed your kielbasa and holiday kielbasa as long as I can remember. I noticed when I buy a pound of prepackaged Kowalski Polish kielbasa it has a very smoky taste to it and the casing is very tough. My sister ordered 40 pounds of holiday kielbasa and kiska before Christmas 2021 and shared some with me. It’s not the same. It all tastes too smokey, the casing is terribly tough, and the kiska is like mush instead of chewy barley in it. What’s going on?!!!!!! You are losing customers from my neck of the woods, and I suspect all over the country. It’s a crying shame that the recipe got changed. The originators would turn over in there graves if they knew how new management is bringing the business down. I’m sorry, but I’m searching for a brand that satisfies my craving for GOOD KIELBASA PRODUCTS.

  9. Angela from Michigan

    March 30, 2022 at 9:52 am

    I agree with Sandra. I grew up on Kowalski. My dad loved the hot dogs and so did I. But, I’ve been noticing that the smokey taste is just so overpowering now that I don’t like them anymore.

  10. Patty Ann

    April 9, 2022 at 5:45 pm

    Are you still making kakuska? A ham like lunch meat. A store in alpena orders Kowalski meats and their supplier said he never heard of it. Thank hou

  11. Michael G Stratton

    May 6, 2022 at 7:55 am

    I have enjoyed your Kielbasa for many years but my Meijer store in Kalamazoo no longer has it. Is there anywhere else in Kalamazoo that carries it?

  12. Don C Rudolph

    February 10, 2023 at 5:16 am

    I’ve noticed the same thing with the kiszka/kiska, the casings are like rubber. They were once a thin casing
    that would crack open & get crispy when you cooked it in a frying pan, that doesn’t happen any more, I wonder if this
    new casing is safe to eat ?

  13. M.C.

    May 27, 2023 at 8:46 pm

    Live in Florida now but grew up with Kowalski products, especially loved going to the store in the Shores Shopping Center in St. Clair Shores as a child. My brother wouldn’t leave without the sour pickle in the plastic bag and several pierogies to take home. We all loved the kielbasa, just like Gramma made. Just got back from MI to attend a family event, purchased the Hunter Sausage to take on the road. It’s all gone now, of course, hope to order some.
    Sure hope the company expands and stays the course, and brings back the original recipes we all so love. It would be even better if they bring back the brick and mortar stores..there is a resurgence of these businesses nowadays.

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