Things seem a bit quiet outside of Rudy's Strudel and Bakery in Parma, but on the inside it's a different story.
"It's the biggest day of the year for us!" exclaims Lidia Trempe.
You see, Rudy's is her family's baby. Her Mom Eugenia took over the bakery in 1979. It's a classic Polish bakery with pierogis, kolatchkis, and the Fat Tuesday favorite of Cleveland. Tuesday is Paczki Day and Lidia can't wait. She says the tradition has been around for centuries.
"It's from the Middle Ages. Paczki means 'packages' so what I call them is pre-Lenten packages of fun."
Customers filed in and out of the bakery Monday, ordering a dozen or two from the case or picking up a pre-order. Rudy's has 28 different fillings from sweet to something different in a savory offering.
The family has been at the bakery for the last four days, frying and filling the "packages." According to Eugenia Polatajko, things have changed in the last 40 years.
"In the beginning, we only did strudel, then we added pierogi, kolatchkis, and then paczkis. We make what the people want. They want different flavors, so we make them."
Last year, Rudy's sold 77,000 paczkis and hopes this year, they can beat that mark. The bakery opens at 5AM on Fat Tuesday and according to Lidia, you better get there early or be prepared to wait in line. "Parma police told us last year that our line was blocking 480!"
Celebrating Fat Tuesday with an indulgence is a tradition in many cultures, and here in Cleveland. Eugenia and Lidia feel Blessed to keep that tradition going.
"We make the same foods that we make for our families and we make it for the City of Cleveland and we're so lucky to have the privilege to do that." So, whether it's sweet or savory, grab a paczki and enjoy!