One of Cedar Rapids’ most historic and well-known landmarks is going out of business. The owner of Polehna’s Meat Market in the Czech Village says flood damage was so severe, it’s too expensive to reopen. Polehna’s has catered to customers since the 1930s.
Owner Mike Ferguson says, "It’s brutally difficult when you not only have a business that has been around forever, but also one that’s looked at like an icon for Cedar Rapids." Ferguson spent weeks wrestling with what to do with the historic meat market.
"Mentally, I could do it. Physically, I could probably do it. Financially, it was tough," Ferguson said. Repairing and replacing what was lost could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Ferguson says, "I have two kids in college. I’m 48-years-old. I don’t want to be paying off a $300,000 loan when I’m 68-years-old."
Plus, he says new health and building code rules would make it nearly impossible to follow the original recipes. Before the flood, Polehna’s was able to use a wood fire to smoke its meats because the equipment was in place before modern health code regulations. Losing a major, well-known business like this could make it even tougher for the entire Czech village to recover.
Polehna’s owner feels bad for the village and says he’ll miss all of his loyal customers. "It was hard work. The hours were brutal, but it was rewarding. It was satisfying," Ferguson said. It’s the end of an era and just one more sign Cedar Rapids will never be the same again.
Ferguson feels lucky though because he didn’t own the building and doesn’t have to worry about fixing it up. A former customer has hooked him up with a new job in a different industry. Right now, he has no plans to sell the meat market’s secret recipes.