Meet the Man behind DRM European Cafe & Delicatessen in St. Charles
*Who is DRM? So tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Daniel Radek Migo. I am a 42 year old entrepreneur and resident of St. Charles, having come here from Poland in 1985. I have owned DRM Cafe for the past eighteen months and also have another family owned business called Halina's Residential Homecare which I have worked alongside my mom for about fourteen years, providing care for the elderly. That is also located here in St. Charles and is still in operation today. I am a proud father of twin daughters, a husband to my wife JoJo , and father also to my two standard poodles.
*Tell us the story about you and your family coming to America.
Leaving Poland was a tough decision for my parents to make, but a necessary one to escape communism. I was about seven years old at the time. After leaving Poland we first headed to Baden, Austria the day before Christmas, where we decided to spend our next thirteen months in a refugee camp with people from all around the world who were there seeking sponsorship to another country. It was a very difficult time in our lives because of the unknown and the living conditions in the camp. Food was rationed there and even your hours spent outdoors were controlled. There were shared bathrooms, and it was made mandatory for children to go to school in Austria, which is how I learned the German language. Both my parents found jobs outside of the camp as well. It was basically a vetting process for all of us in the camp to determine if you were eligible for sponsorship. Not everyone was granted that.
Eventually we were granted sponsorship. Originally we were going go to New York, but two weeks before our departure, plans to New York fell through and St John Newman Church here in St. Charles decided to sponsor us. That is how we ended up here in St. Charles. We came with two suitcases and a hundred dollars in our pocket, not knowing anyone...and not knowing the language. We only spoke German and Polish.
Seven families from St. John Newman church volunteered their time and opened up their homes to me and my family to teach us English, provide housing, find us jobs, and they helped us with homework. They basically started teaching us about the American culture. My mom cleaned homes and she went to college, eventually becoming a nurse at Delnor Hospital. My dad was a mechanical engineer for Fiat in Italy, but found a job here in shipping and receiving at Montgomery Wards. Eventually my dad was positioned with a senior engineering position with Molex. I attended St. Charles schools along with my brother, studied pre-law at Purdue and business at DePaul University in Chicago. In between schooling, I worked in the food industry as a sous chef, prep cook, catering events for weddings and other special occasions.
How did this idea of opening up a European deli come about?
Fifteen years ago, my mother, I, and my late aunt who was an amazing cook had this idea of opening up a Polish cafe. We actually looked at properties in St. Charles and the surrounding area. It just wasn't the right time in our lives.
The idea never left me. It was something I always wanted to pursue and see it come to fruition. After discussing the plans with my wife, we decided it was time to start a cultural journey based on my tradition and travels. I feel like we didn't sacrifice leaving our home and family back in Poland to not fulfill a dream I have had for a long time. I had to do it.
*Why was it so important to you to open the cafe in St. Charles?
I felt like I spent most of my life here and there was no other place I would consider after everything the community provided for me and family, I wanted to give something back.
*Having been open for under two years, the response from the St. Charles community and surrounding communities has been tremendous. Why do you think people are so excited about your food and the service your provide?
Our food holds its tradition. It relates to peoples' culture and reminds them of their family of origin. It reminds them of someone that cooked like we do. It's a traditional, old- world way of cooking....slow, take your time sort of comfort food. It brings you back to a place where you may have visited once or twice in your life, or even reminds you of your grandmother's table. It's authentic, its traditional.
*What are the most difficult aspects of owning your business?
The most difficult is the uncertainty. It's the uncertainty of what each and every day could bring. From my experience in the food industry and from how I remembered it before, its fast paced, stressful, long hours, sometimes less rewarding, sometimes more rewarding...depending on any given day.
*What are you most proud of about DRM Cafe?
I think we have proven ourselves to be a respectable new restaurant that offers quality, consistency, with a traditional way of cooking.
*What imprint do you hope to leave here in the St. Charles community?
I value family. I value sharing quality time with family, sharing a meal without the distractions of modern day world events. That is why there are no TV's in our cafe and we are closed on Sunday, because we respect family time and church. I want to share the tradition of good food, quality time, culture, and upholding traditions with the community.
*What's in store for DRM's future?
We want to maintain our quality of food, service, and tradition....only time will tell what happens in the future.
*What is your best selling item at the cafe, including your own personal favorite meal?
Our best selling item is our cabbage roll tied with our potato pancakes. Schnitzel would come in second place.
My own personal favorite meal is beef goulash over a potato pancake with our red cabbage salad. My favorite sandwich choice is our roast beef sandwich with everything on it, the works!