2014 America’s Classics: Sokolowski’s University InnJBF Editors
May 05, 2014
Sokolowski’s University Inn
1201 University Road, Cleveland
Owners: Bernard Sokolowski, Mary Balbier, and Michael Sokolowski
In 1923 Victoria and Michael Sokolowski founded a Polish restaurant on a bank of the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland. Today, Sokolowski’s University Inn serves edible homages to the city’s immigrant-driven industrial past, dishing sturdy comfort foods like the cabbage rolls that once fueled the city’s growth.
Pierogis, stuffed with whipped potatoes, bathed in butter, and drenched in caramelized onions, are everyday specials. The Sokolowski family does right by Midwestern dishes, too. They beer-batter and fry Lake Erie perch. They craft their own bratwurst and smoked kielbasa.
Originally a tavern when the Tremont neighborhood was flush with blue-collar steelworkers, Sokolowki’s expanded to cafeteria-style service in the 1950s, and has evolved more recently into a touchstone restaurant for Polish families in search of their culinary roots.
The America's Classic award is given to restaurants with timeless appeal, each beloved in its region for quality food that reflects the character of its community. Establishments must have been in existence for at least ten years and be locally owned.