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Pierogi Guy is one determined dumpling

CLEARWATER

Pierogi Guy may just be the smartest dumpling in the world.

He was educated in Montreal and speaks three languages: Greek, French and English.

And ladies, he's single.

He's Frank Dippz, 25, a chef at the Pierogi Grill and official mascot of the restaurant.

He's a cook who becomes a pierogi. And not just any pierogi. A potato and cheese pierogi. With spinach.

When business is slow, he climbs into a puffy white pierogi costume — it looks sort of like an odd, lumpy pillow — zips up and waves at motorists on Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard, just east of Highland Avenue.

It was sewn by restaurant owner Marek Pietryniak's mother-in-law.

And it doesn't take long for Dippz to get into character.

"It's the costume,'' he said. "Once I put it on, it brings me alive.''

No doubt about it.

He's hot.

Sweat poured off him at lunchtime Thursday while he was waving a saute pan to some firefighters who beeped at him.

When Pierogi Guy gets so warm he feels like he could be put on a plate and served, he heads for the walk-in cooler to chill.

Other than the heat, there are other reasons it's tough to be a 5-foot, 8-inch pierogi.

"I've been called a dinosaur, a cloud, all kinds of things,'' Dippz said.

There are, of course, other hazards to the job.

Once, someone threw a beer bottle at him.

"The pierogi was starting to get angry,'' Dippz said.

Now somewhat used to abuse, one of his goals is to be the next San Diego Chicken.

"Yes,'' said Dippz. "Definitely.''

Of course there are happy moments in Pierogi Guy's life.

"I got flashed by a woman,'' he said. "I found it very compassionate. I'm trying to bring a smile to people's faces and she was trying to bring a smile to mine.''

It worked.

But not everybody gets the essence of Pierogi Guy.

A reporter thought he was an onion.

A bus driver thought he was a huge condom.

"One of my customers asked me, 'What animal is that?' '' said server Kasia Zaorska, 22.

Once they realize he's doesn't bite, people like to take pictures with him. One person tipped him $20.

So if you see Pierogi Guy at 1535 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd., on a given evening, be kind.

There is an overheated culinary school graduate inside who is just doing his best to spread the word about pierogies.

And fans may be happy to learn Pierogi Guy may get a mate soon.

"I'm thinking about doing a pizza slice,'' Pietryniak said. "Pepperoni."

Pierogi Guy is one determined dumpling 05/10/08 [Last modified: Monday, May 12, 2008 3:21pm]
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