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In 1965, Tom Birchard was busy studying business administration at Rutgers University when he met Marta, daughter of Wolodymyr Darmochwal, at a fraternity party. Her father owned the Ukrainian restaurant Veselka at Second Avenue and Ninth Street in what was then a largely Easter European community. Tom and Marta married the following year, and ever since then Tom started working at the restaurant part time, helping it grow into the iconic establishment it is today, famous for its 24-hour pierogis and borscht.
Though he and Marta eventually separated (Tom is now married to Dr. Sally Haddock who owns St. Marks Veterinary Hospital), Tom took ownership of the business in 1975, and has since been at the helm, living in the East Village, which he describes as “young, funky, artsy.” Not only does he keep the Ukrainian spirit alive, but he’s active in the community, serving on the board of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and actively sponsoring local performance artists.