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Chef and business operator Erica Pietrzyk used to be a bartender, so she can sympathize with the many bar and restaurant workers who are currently unemployed due to the COVID-19 shutdown. 

The Polish cuisine maven has launched a pay-it-forward pierogi platform at Pietrzyk Pierogi to give those who aren't making money right now free or discounted food. Those who have the means are welcome to purchase a dozen pierogi at pietrzykpierogi.com or in person at the Gratiot Central Market where Pietrzyk has called home base since last summer

"We've had people purchase five dozen pierogi for others so far, so that's exciting. It's a small start, but it something," she said. 

When a gift dozen is available, she and her staff will print a ticket for the wall at the market. Those who are out of work and need food can grab a ticket, pick up a bag of their choice of frozen pierogi and use the ticket for a purchase. 

For sidelined service industry workers who want to leave the freebies for others, Pietrzyk is also offering 20% off frozen pierogi for those in the industry. 

"There is so many negative things happening and I felt this was something positive I could do," she said. 

Pietrzyk Pierogi is open for carry-out from inside Gratiot Central Market, 1429 Gratiot in Detroit. Those nearby can also order delivery via Uber Eats and Grubhub. Visit pietrzykpierogi.com for more information. 

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mbaetens@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @melodybaetens

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