Veselka Attracts Large Crowds Standing in Solidarity with Ukrainian Population
The very popular and iconic East Village restaurant Veselka attracted 100s of New Yorkers this past weekend seeking their homestead comfort food and offering solidarity as they stand with people of Ukraine. Showing support for the Ukrainian community, patrons gathered round to share their despair, their concerns for their loved ones still in Ukraine and configuring opportunities to spread information on ways to help.
All around the boroughs of the city, individuals draped themselves in Ukrainian flags, signaling the fighting spirit which reflects that of the brave Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, whose courage against the deranged dictator and seemingly unprecedented and hopeless odds are inspiring people all over. From the fast-paced cityscapes to the suburban dwellings tucked away in safety and obscurity, people are lining up outside of Veselka paying homage to the land they love.
“I need ammunition, not a ride” — the words Zelensky incited when he chose to remain and contest instead of fleeing his union behind — were scripted on T-shirts made by fellow patrons David and Susan, who were handing them out upon the streets. In fear of being targeted, David and Susan did not provide their last name to the press. Susan still has family there and travels to the region often.
According to Susan, she briefed the NY Post, “It was just important for us to be here,” said Susan, through tears. “There is very little we can do, but we wanted to be with people and eat the food I grew up with. It has been a difficult time.”
The History of Veselka
The Birchard’s, who founded the restaurant in 1954, have been trying to keep up with the crowds forming outside of Veselka ever since the day Russian began the invasion. They all share a rich, deep rooted family history connecting back to Ukraine. Jason Birchard and Tom Birchard, who took over Veselka from Tom’s then-father-in-law, Wolodymr Darmochwai believe the power lies within their unity and love for Ukraine. They have many staff members who are Ukrainian and are continuously in contact with family members back home. Many of the workers are so distraught and helpless, they are working through 16 hours days to at least feel like they are part of their culture and community in the workplace.
Calling Upon Heroes
Zelensky is calling upon people from all nations, ethnicities, cultures and lifestyles to join Ukraine in their effort to fight back. American volunteers are participating in a variety of collections to raise money for the Ukrainian military and those who are in need.
For right now, Jason Birchard is vetting out which Ukrainian organizations to support for his staff and his patrons.
Razom, a Ukrainian human rights organization, is at the top of his list. Second is the Ukrainian defense ministry, which is raising money to buy weapons as requested.
Veselka has changed its Black & White Cookies to the Blue and Yellow colors honoring the Ukrainian flag. They are selling out fast as Ukrainian diners are feeling compelled to gravitate towards the closest place they know to home. You can also support Ukraine through Veselka’s “Eat Borscht – Stand with Ukraine” fundraiser which is handling all monetary donations with Razom For Ukraine organization, as well as non-monetary collections for Ukraine relief efforts. Read more on Veselka’s website at https://veselka.getbento.com/support-ukraine/.
However, not everyone coming to Veselka are those with Ukrainian ties, they are all New Yorkers, sharing an all-encompassing compassion for those deserving freedom and in search of refuge.
Veselka’s Jason Birchard Providing New Yorkers with a Taste of Ukraine
In a previous episode of The Profitable Table, fed by Woolco Foods, Woolco Foods CEO, Steven Toboroff, interviews Jason Birchard and discusses not only the operational side of what it takes, but the family dynamic, culture and drive which has kept customers piling into and staying loyal to a restaurant for over sixty five years.
Woolco Foods also connected with Dima Martseniuk, Executive Chef for Veselka. Dima Martseniuk speaks upon the importance of passion and a strong work ethic, and how they both enabled him to become the transformative Executive Chef of this legendary restaurant.
Do you want to know the best kept secret to their pierogis, borscht, goulash and many other unpretentious favorites that keep customers coming back for more? Choose from a selection of their signature dishes for stocking your fridge or freezer! Made fresh daily for you to enjoy at home and available for pickup or delivery. Check out Veselka’s Delicious Specialty Foods and Marketplace.
Follow @veselkany on Instagram for undeniably mouth-watering, authentic Ukrainian food pics and updates.