Yesterday East Village OG diner Veselka set the clock back to 1954, when the restaurant was first opened by Wolodymyr and Olha Darmochawa, Ukrainian World War II refugees. To celebrate the restaurant’s 60th birthday, Veselka resurrected historical prices, including 10 cent coffee, $1.50 pierogi, egg creams for a quarter, and a bowl of borscht for just 50 cents.
The original plan was to keep the prices in effect for just 54 minutes, from 6 p.m. to 6:54 p.m. But the response was so overwhelming that, as owner Tom Birchard explained, the Ukrainian diner dished out the throwback menu early at 5 p.m. and kept it going until about 10 p.m. “We served probably in the neighborhood of 500 people,” Birchard said. Those visitors consumed about 300 cheap pierogi.
“It was so crazy here,” a manager told B+B over the phone.
“The response was overwhelming and it’s very gratifying that a lot of people showed up here,” Birchard said. Loyal fans waited for up to 3 hours in line to tap in to the bargain-basement priced food.
By the time B+B showed up at 6 p.m. it was 85 degrees and filthy humid, and the line was just about flooding into Dallas BBQ.
A small bowl of borscht runs $4.75 in 2k14, so Veselka’s delicious beet soup was certainly a steal for just two quarters, but customers saved not even 25 cents on a pierogi. Although we suppose it’s comforting that the pies of the people have increased little in price in the course of just over half a century.
Birchard acknowledged Veselka’s back-to-the-future event was a success, although he said it was somewhat of a “learning experience.” Apparently some regulars were frustrated to find the restaurant completely packed and only accessible through extremely long lines. “We’re going to have to work around that,” he said. “We’re going to streamline things so people don’t have to wait for several hours.”
Don’t freak if you missed out on cheap borscht and egg cream — Birchard says Veselka will be bringing back the 1954 menu again, “several times before the end of the year.”