Downtown Ansonia may get a taste of Poland this winter.
A city resident is busy fixing up a storefront on Main Street to house a new Polish bar and club.
Michal Dembowski, of Ansonia, has rented the space next to the Safari coffee shop for the club, which he plans to call “Warsaw” after Poland’s capital city.
“There’s a lot of Polish people around, but they have no place to go,” Dembowski said.
Statistics and observations illustrate the large Polish population in the Valley.
The latest U.S. Census Bureau data (which is, admittedly almost 10 years old at this point) shows high numbers of Polish descendants and natives of Poland living in the Valley.
In 2000, about 12 percent of Ansonia’s residents reported to the Census they came from Polish heritage, and 2 percent reported being born in Poland.
That same year, almost 18 percent of Derby’s population reported its Polish ancestry, and 2 percent said they were born in Poland.
In Shelton, it was 13.7 percent Polish descendants and 1 percent Polish born.
Seymour had 17 and 2 percent respectively.
Oxford had 13 percent Polish descendants and less than 1 percent Polish-born residents.
Anecdotally, there’s local Polish bakeries and delis, and the strong Polish communities at churches such as St. Michael Church in Derby and St. Joseph Church in Ansonia.
But, Dembowski said, there’s no real gathering place for the Polish population.
Dembowski hopes “Warsaw” will fill that need.
The club Dembowski envisions is more than a typical bar and lounge.
His vision includes a place where Polish people can gather for a variety of events, such as art exhibits for Polish artists and movie screenings.
Dembowski expects to operate the club on weekends to start. He said “Warsaw” will be open for socializing in the afternoons, after church services in the area. It won’t be a restaurant, but some food will be served.
The club will have a dance floor and pool table, and Dembowksi plans to have a wall where movies can be projected.
Dembowski said he expects to have renovations complete before New Years Eve, when he is planning an opening party. He said he’s not sure how long it will take beyond then to secure liquor and food permits.
Check out Dembowski at the Harvest Festival on Oct. 10, where he plans to hand out free Polish food to give people a taste of what will be served at “Warsaw.”