Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Homemade home run
To keep up with these Joneses, all you have to do is love eating Ukrainian food at Shaw Park.
Maryanne and Rick Jones, both 58, have been operating Yorko's Ukrainian Kitchen for four years, though the famous Ukrainian food venue has been a staple at every Winnipeg Goldeyes game since 2000.
Yorko's Ukrainian food experience is part of the Winnipeg baseball experience. Perogies, kubasa and cabbage rolls go with baseball at Shaw Park like mustard goes with a hotdog.
"Everything is homemade, that's the secret to success. Our customers can get a good, homemade meal for a decent price," said Maryanne, who brings the Ukrainian heritage to the partnership with her husband.
"Traditional Ukrainian food has always been a big part of my life. My Baba showed us how to make them all. It was definitely part of our children's lives. We live in the North End, our children went to Ukrainian-bilingual schools, learned the culture, the dance and the food.
"We're sharing that with our customers."
Yorko's is a labour of love for Maryanne, who was always Maruschka to her Baba. Maryanne makes all the cabbage rolls, about 400 every day, as well as the borscht and pickles. The perogies and rye bread come from a friend who is also a supplier. All the food is fresh-frozen and brought to the ballpark where Rick and Maryanne cook and serve it themselves.
Maryanne worked for Yorko's original owners, Heather and Ken Chow, for seven years. When they wanted to sell, Maryanne and Rick jumped at the chance.
Regan Katz, Winnipeg Goldeyes assistant general manager, said Yorko's is unique, one of the most popular concessions at Shaw Park.
"If you talk to any visitors from out of town, somebody has told them to come try Yorko's when they're at the ballpark. It really gives us a taste of Winnipeg and its Ukrainian heritage here at the park," said Katz.
"People just want to eat. I know I would, if I was in the crowd! I find that a good portion of the people don't sit. They walk around the concourse almost the whole game, and they just nibble at this and nibble at that," Maryanne said.
"Your true blue Yorko's people, when the gate goes up, they come straight here. We can have anywhere from 12 to 40 people in line right at 6 p.m. when the gate opens (for a 7 p.m. game) and the line grows from there."
Yorko's longest lineup ever stretched from its home at Section D all the way to Section S.
"We have fun, we know our customers, we know who our regulars are. I have one gentleman that comes up to the wicket and as he's walking to me, I can start his meal. He's having a combo, no sauerkraut, no sour cream," Maryanne said.
But what's a peckish-for-perogies Goldeyes fan to do once baseball season comes to an end? Relax, Maryanne and Rick have it covered.
"We had so many people at the ballpark tell us, 'Oh no, it's the end of the season. What are we going to do? We don't get Yorko's until May.' We were looking for something to do anyway, so we opened up a second location."
Two years ago, Maryanne and Rick opened a Yorko's Ukrainian Kitchen at 240 McPhillips St. in the old Titanic restaurant building.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 23, 2012 J5