About

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SINCE 1954, VESELKA HAS BEEN SERVING UP UKRAINIAN FOOD FROM THE SAME LOCATION IN THE HEART OF THE EAST VILLAGE

Veselka, which means rainbow in Ukrainian, was founded by Volodymyr and Olha Darmochwal in 1954. Volodymyr and his wife were Ukrainian refugees in the late 1940s and found a home in the Little Ukraine neighborhood of the lower east side of Manhattan.

Ever since then, Veselka has grown from a small newsstand into a 24 hour gathering place, serving up Ukrainian soul food with traditional dishes like Pierogi/Varenyky, Stuffed Cabbage, Potato Pancakes, Blintzes and Goulash to the delight of locals and visitors alike.

The restaurant, now owned and operated by Volodymyr’s grandson, Jason Birchard, was owned and operated by Tom Birchard for many years, the son in law of the original founders. Throughout the restaurant’s 69 year history, it has been expanded several times, been featured in many prominent films (such as Ocean’s 8, Trainwreck and Juno) along with numerous features in local and national publications. Veselka is, put simply, an institution of New York City.

Beyond the acclaim and popularity amongst it's customers, Veselka continues to be a pillar in the local Ukrainian community. Ukrainians mostly comprise it's staff and the ownership remain very active in the local community, supporting the Ukrainian National Institute, Razom for Ukraine, and local St. George’s Church via food and monetary donations on a regular basis.

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veselka History

  • 1954

    1954

    Veselka was born.

  • 1966

    1966

    Veselka expanded in 1966, taking over the store front on East Ninth Street.

  • 1980

    1980

    The Village Voice gives Veselka its first review!

  • 1990

    1990

    Veselka opens 24 hours a day / 7 days a week.

  • 1996

    1996

    Veselka expands into its current space after a 4 month renovation, nearly doubling the size.

  • 2004

    2004

    We celebrated our 50th anniversary with a dedication ceremony and a plaque marking the occasion.

  • 2009

    2009

    Veselka releases its cookbook.

  • 2007

    2014

    Veselka Cycling Team is founded.

  • 2015

    2015

    The Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Pierogi hits the menu from the first community “pierogi maker” competition.

  • 2018

    2018

    Veselka opens a kiosk at Union Square Holiday Market

  • 2019

    2019

    Veselka Essex Opens at the Market Line.

  • 2022

    2022

    Veselka launches its “Eat Borscht Stand with Ukraine” campaign and raises $400,000 across a year and a half.

  • 2023

    2023

    Veselka is nominated for a “James Beard Award” for Best Restaurant.

  • 2023-1

    2023

    Veselka’s announces its upcoming location at Grand Central Terminal.

  • 2023

    Veselka opens at GCT in the Fall with a signature pierogi making a big splash!

  • 2023

    Veselka is nominated and wins the Maya Humanitarian Award

  • 2023

    Veselka is nominated and wins the Rise Humanitarian Award

  • 2023

    Veselka announces it's upcoming location in Willamsburg, Brooklyn.

  • 2024

    Veselka reaches its goal of raising 500k for humanitarian relief for Ukraine.

  • 2024

    The secret is out! Veselka announces that Veselka: The Movie will be in local theaters in February 2024.

Tasty Tidbits

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WE Make:

5,000

pierogi a day

3,000

Latkes a week

5,200

gallons of Borscht A year
  • 2023 JAMES BEARD AWARD NOMINEE

    Veselka was nominated for Best Restaurant

  • CERTIFIED 2 STAR GREEN RESTAURANT

    Veselka has been since 2009

  • TOP 10% OF TRIPADVISOR RESTAURANTS

    Veselka has been since 2015

  • Movie Features:

    Veselka: The Movie (2024)

    Ocean’s 8 (2018)

    Billions (2018)

    Trainwreck (2015)

    Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (2008)

    Trust the Man (2006)

  • TV Features:

    Love Life (2020)

    Sea Changes (2020)

    Blue Blood (2019)

    Gossip girl (2009)

7x

Judge for the Beat Bobby Flay Show

2x

Guest on the Rachel Ray Show

1st

The Winner of GMA’s 2018 Latke Festival
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Team

Jason_Birchard

Jason Birchard

3rd Generation Owner

New York City-raised and a graduate of SUNY Albany, Jason has been working at Veselka since he was a teenager. Upon graduation in 1989, he was instrumental in opening Veselka up to 24 hours in 1991. In 2000 he stepped into the role of handling…. daily operations. Today he continues to oversee all aspects and is always searching for new ventures to expose Veselka. Jason got married in 2009 to Jessyka Cueva and has one child, Sofia. Jason’s heritage has made sure he continues to support Ukraine during these tragic times. He is on the advisory board of the Ukrainian Habitat Fund, a member of the Ukrainian Institute, and a contributor to the Ukrainian Museum. Veselka has collected and donated more than $500,000 to various Ukrainian Humanitarian causes in the past year.

Tom2

TOM BIRCHARD

2nd Generation Owner

Tom was born in Williamsburg, PA and grew up in Pennsauken, NJ. He attended Rutgers University, graduating in 1969 with a degree in business administration. He was introduced to Veselka in 1965 while dating the original owner’s daughter, Marta... Marta and Tom married the following year and Tom began working at Veselka part-time while completing his education at Rutgers. They have two children, Jason and Tom Jr. Tom took over the operation of the business in 1975 when his father in law died suddenly and has been running Veselka ever since with the help of his son, Jason. Tom and Marta eventually separated and Tom later married veterinarian Dr. Sally Haddock who owns St. Marks Veterinary Hospital. They have three children, Kristen, Todd and Sara.

justin-birchard

JUSTIN BIRCHARD

Director of Development

A graduate of The Ohio State University’s Hospitality Management program, Justin has spent his career in hospitality, working for brands such as Hyatt, Pret A Manger and Tartine Bakery. Justin is Jason’s first cousin and son of Tom Birchard’s brother, Stephen… With the retirement of Tom in the past few years, Justin and his wife Rosie and daughter Violet recently relocated back from Los Angeles to join the Veselka team. Justin spent 8 years previously in NYC working in procurement and then construction project management and development roles for the aforementioned brands. Justin spent 3 years in California opening restaurants in Los Angeles and San Francisco. He brings a multitude of disciplines to his role at Veselka and is eager to assist in building his family’s brand.

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OLESIA LEW

Executive Chef

Olesia Lew is a chef, recipe writer and menu developer. She has her plate full and is loving it. For seven years she was the Chef at Veselka, New York’s iconic East Village Ukrainian restaurant, where she created their education program and continues in… that capacity, teaching master classes in Varenyky/Pierogi making. Olesia currently works with the Veselka family as a menu developer, media liaison and consultant. She recently appeared on the Rachel Ray Show, demonstrating Varenyky making. She is an active member in New York’s large and vibrant Ukrainian community. In addition to her Culinary degree, Olesia has a Bachelor’s in Cultural Anthropology. She is fascinated by food as cultural identity, which inspires her creativity in the kitchen. As an authority on cultural comfort foods, she has been enlisted for her expertise from such media outlets as the BBC, New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and the industry magazine Plate. Olesia has cooked for heads of state and heads of households.

SARAH FLYNN

Director of Culinary

Sarah is a native New Yorker and an accomplished culinary professional known for transforming culinary landscapes into thriving ventures. As a graduate of the University of Wisconsin- Madison, she has had a diverse career as an Executive Chef and Consultant, leaving a lasting mark on prestigious establishments across the tri-state area.

She has worked as Chef Consultant for both restaurants and private clients utilizing her expertise in menu and recipe development, reducing food costs and waste, streamlining operations, and developing culinary initiatives. Her tenure as the Executive Chef for CultureWorks and for Patina Restaurant Group at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden saw her spearhead multimillion dollar culinary programs, orchestrating and executing events and festivals for 1000+ guests across multiple locations. Founding Eathereal Kitchen showcased her entrepreneurial prowess, growing a boutique catering company into a successful events company. With a Grande Diploma in Classic Culinary Arts from the French Culinary Institute, Sarah blends culinary ability with business acumen.


Beyond her professional life, Sarah has a deep passion for international travel and discovering new cuisines. Having cooked on five continents, she considers exploring local markets the top priority of any trip. Sarah actively supports local initiatives such as the Girls Scouts of America and Brooklyn Youth Sports Club, reflecting her commitment to culinary excellence and community engagement. She brings to Veselka her vibrant enthusiasm for discovering the
nuances of Ukrainian cuisine and fostering culinary growth.

Vitalii Desiatnychenko

Director of Operations

Vitalii was born and raised in Kyiv, Ukraine. At the age of 20, he graduated KNEU with a degree in Economics and Management and moved to the US. Veselka was Vitalii's first employer on a different continent and he has been with the company for more than a decade by now. 

Over the past years, Vitalii has worked his way up from busser to Director of Operations. In his current role, Vitalii oversees operations at all locations and takes ownership in critical business functions to improve efficiency, quality and customer satisfaction. His experience in the hospitality industry, together with the knowledge of all aspects of operations at Veselka and Ukrainian cuisine add an incredible value to the brand.