Milk Bars are these kind of „fast food” places, which started to be popular around Poland in the 20th century, between the wars and also later, after the 2nd WW. Milk Bars were a bit similar to today’s diners, but they were based on the traditional Polish cuisine. The name comes from the fact, that during the poor times, it was rather difficult to get meat and that’s why on the menu you’d mostly find dishes based on eggs (like omlettes for example), groats, or flour (e.g. pierogi), with addition of vegetables, fruits or milk products (cheese, sour cream etc.)… That’s how it started, and what happened next? 😉
In 1950s they would also serve beer in some of the milk bars!
The very first milk bar in Poland has been opened in Warsaw, in 1896, by Stanisław Dłużewski (a cattleman, farmer and landlord). He opened a milk bar „Nadświedrzańska” with a little garden, located on Nowy Świat street, so in the very centre of the city! It was a good business, so soon, other entrepreneurs started opening their own places like his. In 1918 milk bar idea became popular all over Poland. In the next years of the economic crisis, the popularity of these kind of diners raised even more, and the official ordinance of the minister would regulate the size, ingredients list and prices of the dishes, so that also the poorer Poles would be able to afford them. That’s exactly the reason why – due to the government subsidizing the bars – you can find the exact prices there – without rounding up! 😉
Milk bars also nowadays can be recognised by the low prices, often 3 times lower to the same dishes found in regular restaurants. Despite the economic and political changes, you can still find some true milk bars in around! Often they are supported by the cities, that provide them with different profits, e. g. preferential rent prices for the venues. Thanks to all this help, it is possible for them to lower the prices and let destitute customers eat there. Milk bars are the relics of the past, places „with the soul”, where you can eat so well, as if a true Polish grandma cooked your meal! 😉