Andy Duda sat in a Subaru and gobbled down his sandwich of smoked sausage and sauerkraut.
"I'm going down to Indian Rocks after this, and I wanted to get food before the beach,'' said Duda, 26.
It was high noon on a Saturday, and the young Tampa man was heading to the beach for some skimboarding when he noticed the sign for Sikorski's Deli & Fish Market at 12545 Ulmerton Road.
"My dad is Polish, and I had a feeling I'd get some good food here — pure, authentic Polish cuisine,'' Duda said.
Eva and Richard Sikorski opened the Ulmerton deli in March near the Florida Botanical Gardens and last week completed a renovation and expansion. Their offerings of Eastern European fare have been well received by the Largo community for years, first at the original Sikorski's Deli on West Bay Drive, which closed about two years ago, and later at Baltic Amber on Clearwater-Largo Road, now also closed.
"When we moved here, we knew we didn't want to run a restaurant anymore," Richard said. "I wanted to have a normal life with 6:30 p.m. being the time I'm out. Instead of working 24-7, I want to work 18-7. We realized we could do everything we wanted right here.''
For the last several months, while Eva ran the daily deli operations, Richard completed the renovations. Now, along with being able to purchase Eva's "comfort food'' — pierogi (dumplings with potato filling) and golabki (cabbage rolls filled with meat), paczki (Polish doughnuts) and kremowka (a cream cake that was a favorite with Pope John Paul) — customers can shop for foods from Russia, Hungary and the Czech Republic in an ethnic grocery section.
The Sikorskis will continue to sell their much-loved Polish cheeses like Edamski and Morski, and Polish beer like Kopernik, but now they have room to sell gift items and books, too.
Eva developed her cooking skills as a child.
"My mother was an engineer in Poland, but when she and I came to the U.S. without knowing the language, she had to take jobs in factories,'' Eva said. "She worked two jobs, day and night, and so I took care of our home and did the cooking.''
While Eva shows off her culinary skills, Richard is focusing on a passion of his own — the smoker behind the business. Each week, he aims to sell about 60 pounds of smoked fish, including mullet, mahimahi, salmon and swordfish.
"I don't know of any other deli that offers fresh smoked meats and fish like we do,'' Richard said. "For the meats, we smoke the sausage that we order from the businesses we know in Chicago, but for the fish, we buy it from local fishermen here. And now, since we have more room, people have a chance to sit and eat their food, fresh off the smoker.''
Lynn Bosco of Clearwater is a frequent volunteer for the Botanical Gardens. The new deli will make her life a bit easier at lunchtime, she said. Before, she would head home to make her own sandwiches. Last Wednesday, she picked up a ham and cheese on rye at Sikorski's.
"There's not many delis like this around here," she said. "It'd be nice to see even more.''
Piper Castillo can be reached at (727) 445-4163 or firstname.lastname@example.org.