When Rose Granite goes to the bingo hall in Clarence, she sometimes spreads the word about what her granddaughter Ashley Hamilton is up to.
After all, it usually has to do with a pierogi stand Hamilton started about three years ago, which is featured this year for the first time at the Centre County Grange Encampment and Fair.
Granite, 83, also known as “Rosie” to her friends and “bubba” to her grandkids, was the inspiration behind the small business, Rosie’s Pierogies.
“I named it after her,” Hamilton said. “It’s all her original recipes, but we spice things up a bit.”
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What Hamilton called “new age” pierogies puts a twist on the traditional potato and dough recipe.
Ashley Hamilton’s pierogies include bacon- and jalapeño-flavored
Her specialties are bacon- and jalapeño-flavored pierogies.
On Thursday, she even served more than 2,400 including Thanksgiving-themed pierogies made of turkey, stuffing and potatoes inside the dough with a gravy topping.
“That was our biggest seller, but here at the fair we’re selling a lot of the bacon kind,” Hamilton said.
Rosie’s Pierogies sells about 2K pierogies at the Grange Fair daily.
On average, she sells about 2,000 pierogies a day.
When she sells at other events, such as the Bellefonte Cruise or Tussey Mountain Wing Fest, Hamilton said the jalapeño pierogies are the most popular.
“It’s just varies based on where we are,” she said.
Pierogies are a traditional Polish dumpling-type dish, but Hamilton said her family is of Slovakian descent.
“It’s just one of those things we grew up with,” Hamilton said.
Inspiration for Hamilton’s business came from her grandma who she calls “bubba”
Hamilton said her inspiration came after spending the day cooking with her grandma.
“I was with my bubba and we were just messing around,” she said. “I was like, ‘I want to make pierogies.’ You don’t know what it’s all going to take and you don’t know how long your grandparents are going to be around, but you want to get their recipes so they’re not forgotten after they’re gone.”
Hamilton made dozens of pierogies and offered a taste test to her business partner and Canyon Pizza owner Greg Nau.
“He was like, ‘You have to sell these,’ so we came up with a plan and here we are,” Hamilton said.
She serves pierogies daily from the Canyon location in downtown State College where she uses its certified kitchen to cook and store some of her goods, and brings her food cart to local fairs and festivals.
But the pierogi business isn’t all she does.
“It’s been busy because I’m a full-time grad student (at Penn State) and trying to do this at the same time,” she said.
Hamilton is studying school counseling with an emphasis in elementary education.
This school year, she has an internship at Bellefonte Elementary School.
Everything I do, I do with passion. My goal is to be a school counselor, but to run the stand in the summers and carry on my family name.
Ashley Hamilton, owner of Rosie’s Pierogies
“Everything I do, I do with passion,” Hamilton said. “My goal is to be a school counselor, but to run the stand in the summers and carry on my family name. My calling is to work with kids, but my other passion is doing this for my family with the hopes of establishing this into a longtime thing for my family and my future kids.”
Hamilton said she is also experimenting with buffalo chicken pierogies, and making Reuben pierogies that are made with rye dough, and are deep-fried with Thousand Island dressing.