Port Richmond: Swiacki Meats Serves More Than Kielbasa

Serving the top of the line in Polish food since the 1950s, Stan and Ed Swiacki Meats is in the process of being passed down to the third generation.

“My husband’s father started it all, and then my husband and his brother took it over,” said Cathy Swiacki, wife of owner Ed Swiacki. “Now it’s my son Eddie’s turn.”

Employee Wes Mucial wrapping up a package for a customer.

Since 1953, owner Ed Swiacki and his brother Stan have been working at the very same place they work at today, Swiacki Meats, at 3623 Salmon St. in Port Richmond. Originally from Poland, the Swiackis’ father opened the meat shop to cater to Port Richmond’s predominately Polish community. Nowadays, Swiacki Meats is popular amongst residents of all nationalities.

“It may have started out with the Polish, but now we have just about everybody coming in,” said Ed Swiacki. “Some of our customers are new, and some we’ve known for decades.”

Cathy Swiacki stocking the freezer.

Betty Markowski is a customer the Swiackis have known for decades.

“They have the best kielbasa ever,” said Markowski. “They’re very accommodating and helpful. They’ve been here forever, so they’re just really well known.”

George Schwab has also known the family for years. After working for them as a kid when he atteneded Northeast Catholic High School, Schwab now owns his own business.

“I got my education here,” said Schwab. “They sort of trained me in how to start and run my own business. They bring so much family in and they make you feel like family. The kielbasa they serve is like your grandmothers kielbasa. It’s the real deal.”

The condiments at Swiacki Meats.

Throughout the years the Swiacki family has hired more than 75 boys from Northeast Catholic High School.

“I used to call the school up and ask if any boys needed a job,” said Cathy Swiacki. “We like to hire family and neighbors from the Richmond area. Our whole goal is to keep this place like the meat stores in the 1950s. That’s what I think makes it stand out. We want to keep that old 1950s vibe alive.”

Not only do the Swiackis like to help out their neighbors, but they also like to help out the animals in the community.

“We have little fundraisers and donations go to local animal shelters like Bingo’s Foundation, ACCT Philly and PAWS,” said Cathy Swiacki.

According to the PAWS (Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society) website, 30,000 cats and dogs go homeless each year in the city of Philadelphia. Four in ten of those animals will eventually be put down. That is 12,000 potential pets killed yearly because they are abandoned.

The meat scale at Swiacki Meats.

“The numbers of stray dogs and cats just keeps growing,” said veterinarian technician Karlyn Damevski from Temple University’s Animal Resource Laboratory. “Some end up in good homes, but unfortunately not every stray animal does. Donations from the public give these animals a better chance at finding loving homes.”

ACCT Philly provides an adoption program where approximately 3,000 dogs are sheltered each year in the North Philadelphia area. Even though 3,000 sounds like a hefty number, unfortunately, the number of strays is even bigger.

“We donate to whoever needs a donation. We go wherever we can get in. The money goes directly to the animals and their needs,” said Cathy Swiacki.

The most popular item customers purchase is the smoked, Polish kielbasa.

“We also like to give to families that need care for their pets,” she went on to say. “If an animal is suffering and needs to be euthanized, we’ll pay for it. If an animal needs to be neutered, we’ll pay for it. I work with a local veterinarian who really helps me out.”

Although they are known for their smoked sausage, homemade babka, homemade pierogie, Zayda’s pickles and more, the Swiacki family is also known by residents for spreading a family like feeling throughout the neighborhood.

“We just like being a business that brings the community together,” said Cathy Swiacki.

Video, text and images by Catherine Palmer.

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