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Dozens of people line up on a street in New York City to get into a famous Ukrainian restaurant as a show of support

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.

A crowd of people lined up outside Veselka
It’s normal to see lines outside of Veselka — diners come from all over NYC to feast on the likes of borscht and vegetarian stuffed cabbage — but now people are also turning out to show respect and sympathy.
Udo Salters
On the day that Russia invaded Ukraine, a lot of people came to the show. Manager: “It’s been like this for days.”Our goal is to stay on top of things. Jason Birchard, the owner of Veselka and the son of Tom Birchard, said that. Tom Birchard took over Veselka, which was founded in 1954, from his then-father-in-law, Wolodymr Darmochwai, in 1977.

Many of our employees are from Ukraine. There are a lot of people talking to each other all night. Some people are so upset they can’t even come to work. There is no way to help them because they are hanging by a thread and feeling angry, upset, and helpless. Birchard has been working 16-hour days since the invasion.

Owner Jason Birchard stands outside of Veselka

Owner Jason Birchard says that some staff members have talked about returning to Ukraine to fight.
Matthew McDermott

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.

Restaurant manager Vitalii Desiatnychenko stands outside Veselka
Restaurant manager Vitalii Desiatnychenko came to the US from Ukraine in 2012.
Matthew McDermott
Birchard said: “It’s very moving.” Everyone born in Ukraine should come back and join the fight. I know that some of my employees have talked about it. So far, smarter heads have won, but of course I’ll back them if they go.For now, Birchard is looking into which Ukrainian groups to support.

Razom, a human rights group in Ukraine, is at the top of his list. In the second place is the Ukrainian defence ministry, which wants to raise money to buy weapons.

If you like Birchard’s famous black and white cookies, they’re now in blue and yellow to match the Ukrainian flag. They’re going fast.

When Susan went to Veselka on Saturday, she also told us why. She lives in the suburbs.

Joe Birchard stands at register inside Veselka

Birchard has been working 16-hour days to serve up comfort foods to the crowds.
Matthew McDermott

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.

About the author

Akanksha Jain

Akanksha Jain love to learn new stuff every day. With a background in computer science and a passion for writing, she loves writing for Startup, Business sections of Editorials99.

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