Veselka is a Ukrainian restaurant that has been operating in the East Village for nearly 70 years.
It’s a place where culture and comfort foods intersect for customers who want to feel a connection to their homeland.
What You Need To Know
- Veselka is a Ukrainian restaurant that’s been operating in the East Village for nearly 70 years. It’s a place where culture and comfort foods intersect for customers who want to feel a connection to their homeland
- Owner Jason Birchard is sponsoring six women through the U.S. government-backed “Uniting for Ukraine” program. He's employing them and said he’s helping them wherever they need it
- Birchard said 100% of the proceeds from their “Stand with Ukraine” pierogi bowls are donated to nonprofit organizations to support humanitarian relief efforts in Ukraine
- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security told NY1 that nearly 440,000 Ukrainian immigrants have arrived to the U.S. since March 2022 — both through the Uniting for Ukraine program and outside of that initiative
There’s a real mission there to continue to keep the Ukrainian people at the forefront of what they do, nearly two years after the start of the Russia-Ukraine war.
The use of traditional techniques to make pierogies by hand is something that would have been done 50 years ago. But the half-dozen women are working in the basement of Veselka.
“We make everything from scratch, I really believe that terminology: It’s made with love,” said Jason Birchard, third-generation owner of Veselka.
But unlike the seven decades they’ve been in business, that “love” is coming from employees who fled the war in Ukraine.
Birchard is sponsoring the six women through the U.S. government-backed “Uniting for Ukraine” program.
He’s employing them and said he’s helping them wherever they need it.
Birchard’s grandfather, who started Veselka in 1954, was a Ukrainian immigrant.
“Unbelievable feeling, a very emotional feeling, that they remind me of my grandmother, who made this food from love,” Birchard said. “One of my mottos here is that we’re all family. We’re all part of an extended family.”
While he’s providing support and comfort to his workers, he’s also providing comfort to his customers.
Birchard said many of his customers, from Ukraine and beyond, are lured to Veselka in search of a connection to home, especially during wartime.
“People seek out comfort food in times of trouble. We’ve always been here from the likes of 9/11, Superstorm Sandy, but this war that started almost two years ago now has been very personal to us,” he said. “And people from near and far have come to support us.”
Kerry Trueman is a regular costumer at Veselka. She eats at the restaurant several times a week.
“I don’t know how to put that into words. I feel a connection with a place I’ve never had the opportunity to actually visit,” Trueman said. “It’s really intense.”
Trueman said Birchard’s support of Ukrainian migrants gives her pride because it speaks to her personal history.
“The food is amazing, but it’s also a great cause. Ukraine, the war is very personal for me because my grandfather was a Polish Jew who fled a Russian pogrom in 1909.”
Birchard said each of his customers brings their own story, coming to the restaurant for a taste of the past and hoping for a better future.
He said 100% of the proceeds from their “Stand with Ukraine” pierogi bowls are donated to nonprofit organizations to support humanitarian relief efforts in Ukraine. He’s raised $400,000 so far.
When it comes to their food, they recently opened their newest location — an outpost at Grand Central terminal.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security told NY1 nearly 440,000 Ukrainian immigrants have arrived in the U.S. since March 2022 — both through the “Uniting for Ukraine” program and outside of that initiative.