Over the weekend, New York landmarks shined in the Ukrainian flag colors of blue and yellow, and Governor Hochul announced New York is ready to welcome refugees if needed. Tons of New Yorkers showed out to support Ukrainian restaurants, or to show their solidarity with demonstrations in Times Square.
And local businesses are also expressing unity in simple but telling ways. KGB Bar in the East Village — a “Soviet-themed” space that has been a literary haven for New York writers since 1993 — has decided to stop selling Russian alcohol in order to show solidarity with Ukraine, according to LES news & lifestyle site Bowery Boogie.
Their Russian Baltika Beer has been swapped out for the Ukrainian beer Obolon, and their three dozen cases of Russian vodka have been replaced by Ukrainian brands like Khor, Shevkoff, and Ukrainian Heritage.
“Our corporate name is the Kraine Gallery Bar, so you know where our sympathy lies,” owner Denis Woychuk told the local news outlet. Though he says the move is a “largely symbolic effort,” they also plan to host readings and music events to “provide resources to aid the Ukrainians.”
If you read about the history of the bar on its website, you’ll learn that it has rich Ukrainian roots — from once being the location for the social club the Ukrainian Labor Home, to the owner’s Ukrainian grandfather partly inspiring the business, being a successful bootlegger in the ‘20s.
If you’re looking for more concrete ways to help, the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA) — based here in the East Village — has launched a fundraiser for humanitarian relief which can be found here.