Long live Kelowna's Prince of Perogies - InfoNews

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Long live Kelowna's Prince of Perogies

Jonathan Warwaruk is the Prince of Perogies, taking over after the king, his grandfather Cecil, died in 2016.
May 14, 2019 - 6:00 AM

KELOWNA - Cecil Warwaruk of Cecil's Perogies fame was known as Kelowna’s King of Perogies before he died in October 2016.

“He was kind of a social butterfly in the restaurant,” his daughter Cari-Lynn Yaige told iNFOnews.ca at the time. “He was very outgoing, very charming and he would talk to all the customers.”

Such a character is hard to replace but his wife Darlene carried on through the last couple of years with the help of various members of her family. It seems all of them have helped out in the past or pitched in when they’re in town on vacation.

But it’s her 25-year-old grandson Jonathan Warwaruk who is the new star of the show.

“I’m the Perogy Prince,” Jonathan said. “That’s the king over there," he added, pointing to a picture of his grandfather on the wall. 

"I love my title – right dudes?” he called to some customers who chuckled in appreciation.

“What my grampa did, that’s what I love to do,” Jonathan said. “Me and my grampa would talk to people all the time. My gramma is the quiet one. I love talking to people. I love to spread the word. What my grandfather did was like... pride. I love selling perogies. I’d love to make my gramma rich one day. Maybe take this over one day.”

Darlene said she’s often amazed to see how much Jonathan is like his grandfather.

Located on Richter Street near Weddell Place, Cecil’s (sometimes referred to as Cecil’s Perogy Palace) is far removed from the restaurant strip on Bernard Ave in downtown Kelowna.

That was also the case back in 1993 when Cecil started and Darlene suspects the location was chosen because it was more affordable.

But the train would stop outside in the morning for breakfast and Clement Avenue was expected to be routed right past their door.

That didn’t happen, but students from Kelowna Secondary School would drop in for lunch and workers from the industrial North End would come at all times of the day.

Today, as that area of town redevelops and the Rail Trail runs right outside the door, business is as good as ever.

Yet, it’s mostly Darlene and Jonathan who run the restaurant Mondays through Saturdays. They no longer do breakfast but serve perogies with a dill sauce (known as a “hangover sauce” by some young customers who have overindulged) along with sausage rolls, borscht and a variety of meats.

Johanathan and Darlene Warwaruk are loved by their customers. When they posed for this photo there were calls of
Johanathan and Darlene Warwaruk are loved by their customers. When they posed for this photo there were calls of "Smile gramma!" And she did.

Sometimes they hire cooks or perogy makers to help out but, mostly, it’s down to the two of them.

It’s a busy life for Darlene who is in at 7 a.m. to make 72 buns to start her day.

Four days a week, she’s making the perogies – or, as now, she has help with that task.

That means putting about 10 boxes of potatoes through the peeling machine each week. Then they have to be cooked, mashed and made into a potato dough that’s fed through a rolling machine to make a dough that runs a few metres long.

Rounds are cut, a scoop of potato and chedder (or other) filling is scooped in, it’s folded and pressed together, 1,700 times each of those four days.

The Borscht is made 500 to 600 gallons at a time and everything is kept cooking hot and fresh as the lunch crowd filters in before noon.

While it’s the same recipe and menu as always, it still attracts loyal regulars who bring their children to become the next generation of customers. They’re listed in hotel “where to eat” brochures, advertise in various media, including Facebook, to attract out-of-town visitors. Darlene looks forward to Rail Trail users dropping in as that part of the trail becomes better used. It only opened late last fall.

“There is no slow time of the year,” Darlene said. “I thought that in September it would slow down. Then in October. Then in November. But it never did.”

While Kelowna Secondary School has moved away, high school and college students still find their way to Cecil’s on a regular basis.

And, with the Prince of Perogies firmly in place, there are plans to keep on serving authentic Ukrainian food in Kelowna’s North End of downtown for many years to come.

Cecil’s Perogies is at 1011 Richter St. They’re open 10 a.m. every day except Sunday, closing at 6 p.m. except 4 p.m. on Sundays. They also offer take-out and frozen food options.

Perogies start as mashed potatoes that are made into a dough and run through this rolling machine.
Perogies start as mashed potatoes that are made into a dough and run through this rolling machine.

Then the dough is cut into hundreds of rounds.
Then the dough is cut into hundreds of rounds.

The rounds are filled with a scoop of, in this case, potato and cheese filling.
The rounds are filled with a scoop of, in this case, potato and cheese filling.

The corners are pressed firmly in place - at a rate of 1,700 perogies a day.
The corners are pressed firmly in place - at a rate of 1,700 perogies a day.

Owner Darlene Warwaruk places a tray of perogies into boiling water to cook.
Owner Darlene Warwaruk places a tray of perogies into boiling water to cook.

Darlene Warwaruk scoops the finished product onto a plate that will soon have sausage and sauce added and handed to a loyal customer.
Darlene Warwaruk scoops the finished product onto a plate that will soon have sausage and sauce added and handed to a loyal customer.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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