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Kropnik's, a new coffee shop in Orient, is named after a long-running Hands family joke. (Credit: Vera Chinese)
Kropnik’s, a new coffee shop in Orient, is named after a long-running Hands family joke. (Credit: Vera Chinese)

An unidentified Polish name on a long-forgotten greeting card has made a comeback as an Orient sandwich shop. 

The recently opened Kropnik’s coffee shop will be one of the last places ferry patrons can stop for bagels, rolls, muffins, sandwiches and of course, coffee, before arriving at the Orient Cross Sound Ferry terminal.

“I hope to turn it into a luncheonette down the road,” said owner Heidi Hands, whose family has owned the adjacent Orient Service Center for decades. “I figured it was a good spot and we needed something new and fresh.”

The name Kropnik comes from a misunderstanding between Hands’ grandfather William Hands Sr. and a friend in the early 1970s, she said. The elder Hands thought his friend had sent him a Christmas card in Polish signing it Kropnik in December 1972. He brought it up to the friend years later in jest, only to have the joke fall flat.

He found that the friend never sent the letter and the strange name became a recurring family joke.

“In my family we would say ‘who took the last cookie’ and he (her grandfather) would say ‘Oh, Kropnik did it,'” Hands explained. “It means nothing to everyone else, but it means everything to everyone in our family.”

Hands just learned of the story of Kropnik’s origin last year at her great-uncle Jim Hands’ 100th birthday party and was inspired to resurrect the mysterious moniker.

“I’m 46 years old and I just found out that Kropnik never existed,” Hands said.

The story is explained on a plaque inside the eatery featuring a picture of William Hands Sr., or rather Kropnik, with his head inside an alligator’s mouth.

Kropnik’s is located at 24375 Main Road in Orient.