Veselka, the beloved East Village Ukrainian diner, is planning to open a new location in Williamsburg, reports The Brooklyn Paper.
The deal to take over a 5,000-square-foot space in Williamsburg is not yet finalized but the 70-year-old eatery expects to have everything set in stone in the near future.
“Having an outpost in Brooklyn or Williamsburg has always been a dream of ours,” said Jason Birchard, Veselka’s co-owner and the grandson of the founding owners.
“I have different vendors and friends that have locations in Williamsburg and they’re all doing very well there. Maybe I’m a little late to the game, but I’m very excited to be there.”
Before Russia's invasion of Ukraine last year, the restaurant had been planning to temporarily close its 2nd Avenue location for long-needed repairs and renovations. The diner has been operating out of its original location nonstop since opening in 1954. But, when the war broke out, Veselka — one of few Ukrainian businesses left in the East Village's “Little Ukraine” — became a hub for the local Ukrainian-American community and its supporters.
With support wrapped around the front door, the family decided to table their closure for a while in order to raise money for the relief effort in Ukraine. Then came the opportunity to expand outside of Little Ukraine and into Williamsburg.
The change in the borough should come as no surprise since Brooklyn is home to a large Ukrainian population. Since the war began, support for Ukrainians has spread across the borough with the recent arrival of over 14,000 Ukrainian refugees since the beginning of the war, according to the governor’s office.
And as soon as the Brooklyn location opens, the 2nd Avenue restaurant will finally close for renovation. In addition to the larger kitchen and dining space, the Williamsburg location will feature a larger retail space offering a variety of goods such as clothes, water bottles and more decked out in the Ukrainian flag's signature yellow and blue.
“We’re very excited,” Birchard said.
“What’s happening in Ukraine is tragic and depressing, and we’re very hopeful for a peaceful end, and we’re going to continue making and serving Ukrainian soul food. Our hashtag is Ukrainian soul food in the heart of the East Village, we’re going to now say Ukrainian soul food made in the heart of Williamsburg."