The Ivanhoe Cafe was founded in 1909 by Stanislaus Grendzinski who had eight children, one who was named Agnes. Agnes married Stanley Sienkiewicz in 1927 and ran the bar for 60 years. Big John Sobczak took over the helm in 1987 and is now owned by his wife, Lucille and is managed by their daughter, Patti Galen. Still in the original building on Jos Campau and Frederick The building bears the Grendzinski name. In what remains of the old Poletown neighborhood, this small working class bar with great food prepared with all fresh ingredients, modest prices and excellent service is a Detroit institution that has defied the odds.
You’ll always find fresh flowers on the tables and a wonderful old time neighborhood atmosphere. Some photos of recognizable people hang on the walls of the Ivanhoe include Sonny Eliot the weatherman, Phyliss Diller, Dick Purtan, Ray Lane, Xavier Hollander and others. Have they been there? Maybe!
The Polish Yacht Club, which is part of the Ivanhoe’s heritage, was founded in 1961. “Big John” Sobczak who passed away in 1994, was the force behind the Polish Yacht Club, which was formed to provide some of the “regulars” with a reason to attend monthly meetings at the bar. You don’t need a boat to be a member, though. At one time during its existence members once asked the Detroit City Council to dig a canal from the Detroit River to the Ivanhoe so they could have dockage space near the bar.
The tongue in cheek group is “dedicated to clear sailing for good deeds” and conducts fund raisers for local charities.