In his Arlington gift shop, Mikhail Frumkin offers
merchandise from Poland, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Latvia,
Greece, the Czech Republic, Yugoslavia and Russia, and
Russian-style items made in the United
Hand-painted lacquer boxes line a shelf of the
ARLINGTON - Soviet native Mikhail
(pronounced Michael) Frumkin knows Americans have some pretty
Frumkin, who owns A Taste of Europe restaurant and gift store in
Arlington, said he enjoys catering to those tastes. Frumkin serves
up an eclectic menu as well as selling merchandise.
The charming immigrant from Minsk, Belarus, also owns Russian
Island in the Dallas Galleria mall.
Neatly organized shelves in the compact, modest facility in
Arlington hold merchandise from Poland, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Latvia,
Greece, the Czech Republic, Yugoslavia and Russia. Frumkin hauls the
products from his 3,000-square-foot warehouse on Cooper Street. Some
of the items are made by artisans in the United States, others
shipped from his motherland.
Customer Chuck Louthan of Cedar Hill praised the store.
"I've been to Russia twice, and the gift shop is almost identical
to what you'd find in Russia. The dolls, the Russian clothing, the
Russian jewelry. He's got some jewelry that's just amazing," Louthan
said. "It's just a neat place; it's got such a warm charm to it,
such a neat experience."
The stock includes hand-painted Faberge Eggs, nesting dolls and
rare items such as hand-painted lacquered boxes and hand-painted
balalaikas, stringed Russian instruments.
Frumkin won't divulge how he acquires his rare finds.
"It's a secret," he said. "I have people in Russia looking for
things for me."
Other items include ethnic canned meats and freshly baked goods,
Russian teas, silver and nickel alloy, hand-painted pocket watches,
herbal Russian shampoos, nesting-doll magnets and key chains, amber
jewelry, flax dolls, CDs and large, colorful, woven shawls from
"The small one is 36-by-36," Frumkin said, unfolding a reddish
one. "A lot of people use them as tablecloths."
The food at A Taste of Europe is just as exotic, with a menu of
more than 100 items.
"We try to accommodate all people," he said. "A lot of our
couples are mixed ethnicity. If a husband does not like Russian
food, we also have American food."
The more unusual fare includes house specialty shish kebab, lamb
kebab, pilaf from Uzbekistan and dolmas, an Armenian appetizer
wrapped in grape leaves.
Louthan said the food impresses him as much as the gifts.
"They make everything fresh right to order and the service is
wonderful," he said.
John and Vickie Vogel and their son Carson, 2, were on their way
to another restaurant but tried A Taste of Europe instead.
"The food was good," John Vogel said.
The Vogels said they will return and even bring relatives.
"My wife's parents get their share of Mexican food when they come
in from San Antonio," he said.
Frumkin and his family came to the United States in 1979. He
worked as a civil engineer, as he had in Minsk, before turning his
hobby, collecting and supplying Russian items, into a business. In
1992, he opened a small kiosk at The Parks at Arlington mall and his
store in the Galleria. In 1993, he opened a store in Hulen Mall. All
have since closed except for the Dallas store.
He opened A Taste of Europe on Pioneer Parkway in 2002. It, too,
closed for a while but reopened in November after remodeling.
"Soon we will make a profit because of the trends," he said. His
biggest challenge is getting the word out.
Frumkin wants to expand so that the gift shop and restaurant are
On his Web site, Frumkin also sells engineering services,
translation services and even used cars. He flashes a sheepish
"We have very good prices," he said.
A Taste of Europe
1901 W. Pioneer Parkway