It is a familiar story of American immigration: A family comes to the U.S. and works toward owning a business—perhaps a restaurant that shares parts of their culture with their new neighbors.
What is unusual about the Kata family’s story of American business ownership is how quickly it was written. Roughly five years ago, Peter Kata and his wife, Ilona Kata, were living in their native country of Poland and operating a small bistro when they won a U.S. green card lottery.
The lottery program, intended for people from countries like Poland that are underrepresented in U.S. immigration, afforded the Katas a chance at permanent residency in the U.S., if they wanted it.
Then, just over two years ago, they were presented with an opportunity. The owner of a Polish restaurant in Plano, Texas, was looking to sell the business. The Katas already had their green cards. They decided to try something new and build a life in the U.S.
“We had to learn everything from the beginning, actually, without knowing all the rules, without knowing the laws,” Peter Kata said.
Today, their restaurant, Taste of Poland, offers one of the more unique European menus and restaurant concepts in North Texas. The small dining area attracts people who want to try the menu specialties of sausages, stuffed cabbage, potato dumplings and other Polish fare. But just down from the entryway, Taste of Poland has a small deli and market with Polish grocery items like butter and pierogies for sale.
Since the Katas bought the restaurant, they have worked to give it an even more authentic Polish feel, donning the walls with large murals of Polish cities and installing an arch-shaped entryway to the dining area.
“We decided to make [the]next step in our lives,” Peter Kata said of the decision to move to Plano. “That was only the reason—try something new.”