Ukranian diner Veselka expands to Brooklyn and Midtown

Food & Drinks /

The spot will serve as both a commissary kitchen and a fast-casual restaurant, said owner Jason Birchard, Darmochwal’s grandson. Birchard said he was looking for a space to help with production for the other locations, as well as for a robust e-commerce business. He considered New Jersey but ultimately decided that being close to customers and the East Village locations was more important. The lease has not yet been signed, since the deal is slightly complicated: Birchard is planning to take on a 49-year ground lease and build out what is now an empty warehouse. When the Williamsburg space eventually opens, the East Village restaurant will temporarily close for renovations, said Birchard. He said he wants to expand the kitchen, among other updates.

In 2018 the restaurant opened a small offshoot on Essex Street, at the Market Line food hall at Essex Crossing. The Grand Central space will be a kiosk, similar to the Market Line setup, and will open later this year. “In the future, that is how we see the brand growing,” Birchard said. 

Veselka is nominated in the Outstanding Restaurant category in this year’s James Beard awards. Last year it became a gathering place for Ukrainian-American New Yorkers and their supporters as they watched war begin with Russia.

It now lists a “Stand with Ukraine Bowl” for $19 on its menu. The bowl has six pierogi, caramelized onions, grilled kielbasa and bacon. The restaurant is generally known for its pierogi, soups such as borscht and classics such as beef stroganoff and veal goulash. The leading state for e-commerce shipments of such dishes is Florida. “People want to taste some New York,” Birchard said.

Since 1990, the restaurant has been known for serving New Yorkers 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In the summer of 2022 it reduced its hours, opening at 8 a.m. and closing at 11 p.m. on weeknights and at midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. Overnight crews had quit their jobs and it was impossible to hire new workers, Birchard told Business Insider in June. He hopes to be open for 24/7 dining again soon, he said.

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