There’s really just one street corner in all of Hofa Park, Wisconsin but, with a tavern on one side and a church on the other it has everything you need.
As a bonus for those who find their thirst quenched, soul cleansed, and a little time still on their hands, Hofa Park boasts a state-of-the-art ball diamond on its northern border, and a dance hall on to the east.
Carved out of the Northwoods by four Polish families in 1877, Hofa Park owns a rich history of hard work, resilience, intemperance and excellent fish fries. Gradually, the families of Valentine Peplinski, Valentine Zygmanski and brothers Frank and Michael Lepak grew and drew more Polish settlers to the fertile area, rich with good lumber.
A terrible fire swept through the entire area in 1886, wiping out homes of the Pulaski, Podulski, Sentowski, Kielpinski, Sobieszczk, Gorecki, Jankowski and more familes. So devastating was the destruction that, according to the Dec. 14, 1886 issue of the Green Bay Daily State Gazette, more than a month after the fire, a Polish woman from Hofa Park walked 20 miles to Green Bay and went about the city in the rain to solicit aid for her wounded husband and children.
By all accounts, the raging fire miraculously left both the church and the tavern across the street standing.
We knew none of this Saturday night as we sat at the bar and ordered dinner. We just found the whole place fascinating.
The Hofa Park Tavern, built in 1883, has been owned by the same family since 1945. Current owner Amy Swiecichowski still uses the same fish fry recipe her grandma Bernice used.
Vince ordered a traditional perch plate, and I had haddock, with Bernice’s famous salad and homemade French dressing.
Both our meals were delicious. We washed them down with equally traditional Brandy Old-Fashioned Sweets, though we could have had shots of Old Crow, “the world’s most popular bourbon,” according to a vintage sign, for the equally vintage price of 35 cents.
Kudos to the Hofa Park founders, who built their little corner of the world to last.
We’ll be back and we’re especially looking forward to a summer visit, when both the ball field and the dance hall will be hopping.