Mary Poldruhi wanted to be the Ray Kroc of Polish fast food when she started Parma Pierogies in 1991, hoping to sell restaurant franchises and retire to focus on philanthropy like the McDonald's founder.
"That was my main goal," she says. "It was to build a business and retire young to take this crusader energy to do something meaningful."
Her flagship restaurant was visited twice by Bill Clinton, and she eventually moved into selling her pierogies in grocery store chains before bad business deals forced her to close up shop in 1999.
But Poldruhi is determined to bring her homemade pierogies back, with a twist. Two-thirds of the company's net profits will go to charities such as Providence House and Blessing House.
"I couldn't think of a better way to bring our brand back than to know that the rest of my life's work is not just selling pierogies," she says.
Poldruhi launched an Indiegogo.com campaign to help generate $988,000 to buy equipment and cover operational costs for six months, but had raised just $4,485 at press time.
She says the startup cash needed could be as low as $487,000, and although her fundraising campaign was set to end Jan. 31, Poldruhi says there are plans B, C and D if the goal isn't reached.
"I'm going to launch this business one way or another," she says.