Niagara Gazette — But, her mother’s daily care was beginning to take its toll. Kathy began to think about closing the doors to the popular Polish landmark.
“I was sitting one day and thought ‘I can’t do this anymore,’” she said.
By coincidence, a man came into her office that day. He was a friend of John Prozeralik, the former owner of one of the most popular restaurants in Niagara Falls, John’s Flaming Hearth.
When she heard that day that Prozeralik had too much time on his hands, she told the friend to have Prozeralik call her. “I thought he could just come to the restaurant and hang out,” she said.
Instead, Prozeralik revived her appreciation for the business. “He started doing the work I had been doing. He started fixing everything,” she said. “He said to me, ‘do you know what you’ve got here? You’ve got calls coming in like crazy.’”
Prozeralik started making his famous pumpkin ice cream pie, and convinced her to reopen the restaurant four days a week. Now 88, he’s not involved in the day-to-day operation but still comes in and makes about 30 ice cream pies a week. The popular dessert is served there with every dinner ordered. The simple menu features housemade Polish favorites, along with hand-cut steaks, as well as lobster and shrimp cooked by a former chef at John’s, Don Cirillo, and his assistant, John Pyda.
“We have this nice, smooth operation now,” Kathy said. Now, the plan is to grow a bit.
“We want to be open more,” added Stosh, 21, a business student at Niagara University who works behind the bar and helps manage the restaurant with his sister, Andrea. The pair have been coming to the restaurant to help out since they were small. Andrea, 23, plans to work there full time when she finishes her degree in travel and tourism this May from SUNY Delhi. The siblings are sometimes joined by cousins Krista Kajfasz, 22, and Deanna Kajfasz, 18, and supported by a small, loyal staff.