Some Russian restaurants in New York City standing with Ukraine amid unrest overseas

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Monday, March 7, 2022
Russian businesses have message to New Yorkers amid unrest overseas
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Lauren Glassberg has more as New Yorkers are showing support by eating at Ukrainian restaurants and skipping out on meals at Russian-owned businesses.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The conflict in Ukraine is thousands of miles away, but that isn't stopping New Yorkers from showing their support at home any way they can.

That includes eating at Ukrainian restaurants and skipping out on meals at Russian-owned businesses.

The vodka, the décor -- it all feels Russian, and that's the idea. It's meant to be nostalgic for those who fled the Soviet Union.

"We all ran from the same evil," Vlada von Shats said.

But now von Shats says the very thing that's made the Russian Samovar popular is making it a target for hate mail, nasty phone calls and fewer customers.

"My business, my business it drops drastically overnight," von Shats said.

Business is down 60% since Russia invaded Ukraine, but she supports Ukraine.

"My husband is Ukrainian, I'm Russian, my children are half Ukrainian, half Russian, so to us it's a personal tragedy," von Shats said.

At the KGB Bar there has also been some backlash.

"I took down my Soviet flag I had a big Soviet flag," said Denis Woychuk.

It was taken down after complaints, but the owner's father was Ukrainian, and the name KGB actually stands for Kraine Gallery bar -- that gallery is now a theater and the owner plans to add a U to Kraine.

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"I feel like I have to go the extra step because there's a lot of anger out there and I'm standing with Ukraine on this," Woychuk said.

And a few blocks away, customers are lining up to dine at Veselka, a Ukrainian restaurant.

Third generation owner Jason Brichard is raising funds through borscht sales and collecting items to send to Ukraine.

"We've seen a large increase in business, people just coming out to support, sympathize, commiserate, and what better way than over a bowl of borscht and some perogies," Brichard said.

Back at Russian Samovar, they too are holding a number of fundraisers to help Ukrainians because even though Russia is in their name, their hearts are with Ukraine.

And the owner says people are starting to realize that.

"I'm getting flooded on Facebook with support and I feel the love," von Shats said. "We're not going to let the beloved Samovar go down."

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Apple has stopped selling its iPhone and other popular products in Russia as other major U.S. companies have curtailed their business amid worldwide outrage over Russian President Vladimir Putin's assault on Ukraine.


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