When Aneta Duchniak moved to Wakefield from her native Poland she was only planning to stay for six months.
But more than a decade after leaving her home city of Czestochowa she has set up roots in the city and owns Duchniak’s Polish Restaurant on Kirkgate.
The restaurant is on the fringe of the city centre and is hoping to benefit from redevelopment on Kirkgate and its key location near to the railway station and the Hepworth.
Aneta said it is a waste to not have a hotel near to Wakefield Kirkgate station, given its proximity to some of Wakefield cultural attractions.
She believes having a place for tourists to stay in that part of town would go a long way to restoring the Kirkgate area.
The restaurant, on the way to the Hepworth, serves traditional food with an upmarket restaurant feel.
On the menu you’ll find a range of stews, cured meat, breaded pork, beetroot soup and other central and eastern European staples.
Aneta said: “People come in all the time and say they have been meaning to come for years. We get really lovely customers. Some coming for the very first time and some who’ve been to Krakow or Gdansk and they loved the dumplings or sauerkraut and are looking for something similar.
“Everything is homemade and made to order. People will find something they like and if they don’t like cabbage they don’t have to have it.”
Aneta worked in warehouses as well the Kings Croft Hotel in Pontefract and Sloane’s in Wakefield while getting the money together to open her restaurant.
At that time she couldn’t have pictured running her own restaurant in the city.
She said: “I first came over to Wakefield when my friend live here. First it was for three months during a gap year. And then the next time she had split up with her boyfriend and I’d split up with mine so I came over and we cried together! I didn’t think that 10 years later I’d be running a restaurant here – I only came for six months.
Then it was another six months and another. I didn’t expect it but you don’t when you are 25. It was an adventure.”
Aneta said the restaurant had a strong connection to many of its British and Polish customers but she was still learning about the differences in culture after all her years in the city.
She said: “People are very nice here. It’s changing a bit in Poland but it’s not really the culture to greet strangers and say ‘hi, how are you’ on the street. We don’t really understand it.
“I suppose we can seem a bit abrupt, but I’m also learning – I know that if I apologise in Britain I have to say it five times!”
Earlier this year the cafe was broken into and a till was stolen. It was the second time the restaurant had been targeted by burglars.
But since then a neighbour from the flats next door keeps an eye on the building and gives Aneta a call if anything looks suspicious.
Aneta said: “She’s so lovely – it’s like having my own neighbourhood watch.”