Remember, at the start of the millennium, those times when Warsaw was more whine and dine than wine and dine. That changed in 2004 with the launch of the Mielżyński Wine Bar: a viticultural revolution was born. Where wine was once viewed as something to be drunk in the darkened back rooms of the city’s antique restaurants, here it was being presented as an everyday pleasure in a laidback warehouse environment. It wasn’t just the trendistas who loved it.
Yet as if revolutionizing the wine bar scene wasn’t enough, Robert Mielżyński’s biggest achievement has been creating an identifiable Polish brand from scratch. Canadian-born, but raised as a Pole by his émigré parents, in the decade or so since his return to the ‘motherland’ his import business and wine bar chain have become indelibly linked with quality. “We’ve become a proper brand,” says Mielżyński, “and not just a high-caliber brand, but a high-caliber Polish brand.” It’s a point he makes with pride, and one that warrants recognition.