More than 100 people lined up on an East Village street Saturday night as they waited to get into Veselka, an iconic Ukrainian diner that has become a favourite spot for New Yorkers looking for comfort food and community. They talked about their fears, concerns for their loved ones in Ukraine, and how they could help.
They came from the city and the suburbs, dressed in Ukrainian flags and wearing T-shirts that they made about the bravery of Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky. People all over the world are inspired by his bravery and spirit in the face of an unhinged dictator and impossible odds.
David and Susan made T-shirts with the words Zelensky said when he decided to stay and fight instead of flee. They were giving them away. They didn’t give their last name because they still go to the area and were afraid they’d be targeted. Susan told the Post that she still has family in Ukraine, and that they live there now.
“It was just important for us to be here,” said Susan, who was in tears, as she spoke. You can’t do anything, but you want to be with people and eat the food you used to like. It has been a hard time.
There are a lot of people helping out. People in charge are working as cashiers, and the cooks are working seven days a week.
During the pandemic, Veselka was known for its 24-hour service. People who went to late-night clubs mixed with people who worked in the morning, all looking for comfort food like pierogis and borscht.
“I’m surprised by how many people there are, but then again, I’m not surprised at all.” Birchard: “It’s kind of like we’re everyone’s favourite living room, and I’m grateful and thankful for that.” Birchard said that the restaurant has always been a place for people to come together in times of trouble, like 9/11, Superstorm Sandy, the Orange Revolution of 2005, and Russia’s 2014 invasion of Crimea.
There were times when lockdown took its toll. In the beginning, it looked like Veselka might not be able to live for very long. Now it’s back, but it’s not quite at 24-hour service. If you live on the Lower East Side, there’s even an Essex Crossing food market where there’s a Goldbelly branch, and you can order from all over the country.
Two of the many people who have come to Veselka to give moral support to people who are down.
In this sentence, we say that Jennifer Gould is a person
In the restaurant with her partner, James was wearing a Ukrainian flag. Tanya, a 29-year-old medical technician from Ukraine, came to the restaurant with her partner. They, too, didn’t want to give their last names. They just thought it was “important” to be here, though.
Also because the food is good. James said this.
“Veselka is a very important, symbolic place.” It doesn’t matter that I’m still from Ukraine. My heart will always be there. Tanya, whose family is in an area “surrounded by a lot of Russians and tanks,” said that she tries to help as much as she can.
For now, she says that the Russian tanks that are near her family’s home have run out of fuel, and the “significant bombing” has been put on hold for now.
“But it was bad,” she said. When the Russians were shooting at a kindergarten while kids were there, some of them died. My family is still hiding in the basement. My parents, brother, uncles, aunts, and friends are all still in Ukraine, and they’re all still in touch with each other.
Tanya also said that she didn’t understand why Ukraine wasn’t a member of the EU or NATO. That’s what she said.
He also wants people from all over the world to come to Ukraine and help fight, like the anti-fascist foreign volunteers in Spain’s Civil War, which was written about by Hemingway in For Whom the Bell Tolls.
When the 1990s came around, American volunteers fought with the Kosovo Liberation Army and helped them win the war. So far, New Yorkers haven’t been going to places like Veselka to fight for Ukraine, even though they’re raising money for the military.
The woman said they came to Little Ukraine “to do something, to show support for the brave people of Ukraine.” This is what my husband and I did: We made a dozen shirts with the words “The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride.”
As she continued, “We passed these out and listened to the stories of people who were worried about their families and the world. It made us feel better to do this.” He and his people are brave, fighting to live in peace and freedom. We hope this ends quickly, with Ukraine having peace and freedom.
There aren’t just people from Ukraine who come to Veselka. They all live in New York.