East Village icon Veselka opening a second location in Williamsburg
Veselka, a staple of the East Village for nearly seven decades, is headed to Brooklyn. As first reported by the New York Post, the 69-year-old Ukrainian diner known for authentic dishes like pierogi and borscht will open a new 5,000-square-foot location in Williamsburg. While the lease isn’t finalized yet, Jason Birchard, co-owner of Veselka, expects to announce the location of the new eatery soon. Once the new restaurant opens, owners will temporarily close the Second Avenue location for renovations.
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In addition to a restaurant, the planned Williamsburg location will also have a retail space selling merchandise like clothes, water bottles, and more in the colors of the Ukrainian flag. It will also carry Veselka-branded plates and cookware.
Birchard had been planning to temporarily close the East Village location for renovations last year, but when Russia invaded Ukraine, he decided to keep the restaurant open to raise money for relief. Elected officials, including Mayor Eric Adams, dined at the restaurant in support of Ukraine’s fight against Russia.
“We needed a space that could be a hybrid kitchen and restaurant to deal with the pent-up demand of the last 12 months, which has shown that people love Veselka, and we are incredibly appreciative and want to meet the demand that is there,” Justin Birchard, Jason’s cousin and Veselka’s director of development, told the Post.
In 2018, Veselka opened a quick-service location with a limited menu at The Market Line at Essex Crossing on the Lower East Side. A similar quick-service location of Veselka will open in Grand Central, according to the newspaper.
Like most restaurants, Veselka faced financial hardships due to the Covid-19 pandemic. And while it fared better than most businesses due to its large outdoor dining space, the restaurant struggled to stay open. The restaurant, once famous for its 24-hour service, started closing at 9 p.m.
In December 2020, Veselka announced it would expand into a vacant space next door. The new addition to the restaurant would house a “sushi bar-style counter” that would showcase how Veselka’s pierogies are made.
Birchard is hopeful that once the deal is finalized, the new restaurant could open before the end of the year.
Prior to the pandemic, Veselka was serving 21,000 pierogis, 2,500 latkes, and 110 gallons of borsch each week.