Veselka, the East Village diner, has served up pierogies, potato pancakes, stuffed cabbage and all other Ukrainian staples since 1954.
Those dishes are comfort foods, much needed among Ukrainian American patrons since Russian forces invaded Ukraine.
“My feelings are with Ukraine and not with the aggressors,” said diner Mark Fields.
What You Need To Know
- Veselka, the Ukrainian East Village restaurant, is donating all sales of its borscht to Ukrainian relief groups
- Veselka is also holding a donations drive for essential items
- The popular Ukrainian restaurant is seeing longer lines than usual since Russia invaded Ukraine
It encouraged Fields, who has Ukrainian ancestry through his paternal grandparents, to dine at the restaurant.
“It reminds you of your childhood, grandparents, family,” Fields said.
Now, dining here can be more than symbolic.
Third generation owner Jason Birchard says he’s fully donating proceeds from every order of Veselkas borscht to raise money for Ukrainians overseas
“All of our borscht sales, both in-house and for to-go, we’re donating all those sales completely. We raised up to $10,000 just in the first week and we expect much more,” Birchard said.
And the team at Veselka is accepting donations for essentials.
“We’re also creating a donation drive with some basic necessities that are being requested of the Ukrainian relief associations and societies for help," Birchard said. "Everything from Band-Aids to batteries.”
There are plenty of customers to help in that effort.
Veselka, already among the most popular restaurants in the area, has seen even longer lines than usual since last week. Birchard and his staff have been working long hours and double shifts to keep up.
“Since last Tuesday we’ve had lines constantly from shortly after we open until we close at midnight now,” Birchard said. “I’m very grateful thankful for all the support and it keeps the staff busy, which keeps their minds busy.”
Diner Sydney Guinchard brought her mother visiting from California to Veselka.
“I wanted to take her here anyway because it’s one of my favorite restaurants,” Guinchard said. “But I thought especially now it’d be nice to come out and support.”
Beyond the donation drive, Veselka is showing its solidarity and pride in small ways, like the blue-and-yellow cookies designed like the Ukrainian flag. And Birchard himself has been wearing a traditional Ukrainian garment.
“This is called a vyshyvanka,” Birchard said. “It’s a traditional Ukrainian shirt that men wear just to support and show that they’re proud Ukrainian Americans."
He calls the Russian invasion a war on Ukrainians and the free world.
“We have to stand collectively, bring this to light and let the world know that that we’re with Ukraine and we’ll do our best to survive,” Birchard said.