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Paczki Day during the pandemic: Local bakeries make big adjustments

Hamtramck Paczki Run 2017!
Posted at 5:44 AM, Feb 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-16 06:52:27-05

(WXYZ) — It's a time-honored tradition for metro Detroit bakeries, and a day that usually draws in big crowds for small businesses. We're of course talking about Paczki Day.

“This is what keeps the bakery alive," Sandy Bakic told Action News. Her parents own New Martha Washington Bakery on Joseph Campau Avenue in Hamtramck.

Related: Paczki Day 2021: Here's where to get the best paczki in metro Detroit

Bakic said Packzi Day 2020 just missed the financial blow of COVID, but since the pandemic really hit Michigan, sales have been down overall.

"Sometimes by even 30, 40, 50 percent," she said.

Which is why Tuesday is so important for family bakeries, now facing a difficult task; social distance as much as possible on what's usually their busiest day of the year.

“Previous years it would be shoulder-to-shoulder, 40-50 people inside," said Bakic. But this year, only six customers are allowed inside New Martha Washington at a time.

The bakery is also relying on pre-orders to keep crowds small, and Paczki are on sale for longer this year at New Martha Washington, which started selling them last week.

“We’re trying to stretch it out so basically social distancing by days," Bakic told Action News.

You can of course buy Paczki on-site Tuesday on a walk-in basis, but she said many people opted to order and pay in advance.

Just down the street New Palace Bakery is opting for pre-arranged orders to-go for its longtime customers. Pandemic or not, the store opens at 3 a.m. on Tuesday.

“We have five different options. We have two dozen options, two half dozens, and then a three piece option," said Suzie Ognanovich, whose family owns New Palace.

“My favorite is the raspberry, strawberry. I like the custard ones also," longtime customer Joanie Zawislak said.

All of the above are traditional flavors included in several of New Palace's pre-arranged box options. They also offer specialty flavors for the more adventurous.

“So we have three strawberry cheesecake, three triple chocolate, three buttercream, and three peanut butter and jelly," Ognanovich said.

Both bakeries have upped cleaning protocols, require masks inside, and have clear markings reminding people to social distance.

New Martha has also downsized its flavors from 21 to 13 this year.

“It’s faster with 13 flavors to fill a box than with 21," Bakic said.

“It’s been a tough year in general, but our customers do keep coming back and we appreciate that," Ognanovich told Action News.

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