The restaurant, serving traditional Ukrainian cuisine prepared by the trio of Ukrainian women, is not only a business, but also a way to support their countrymen and woman back home.
The restaurant, located on the Kerklaan near the Noorderplantsoen, offers typical Ukrainian dishes, like holubtsi (stuffed cabbage) and varenyky (filled dumplings), among others. Part of the profits is used to buy and send items to people in need in Ukraine, and the restaurant also accepts donations to sustain Ukrainians.
The owners also hope to offer job opportunities to Ukrainian refugees who are in Groningen. “Every day, people come by our place to take food, and we cook for them, including two soldiers hospitalized at UMCG,” Skochdopol said.
Successful food stand
Benkovska and Viunchuck fled from Ukraine themselves after the war started, and Skochdopol has been living in the Netherlands for eight years. In April, she started selling dishes from a travelling stall in locations around Groningen, including the Grote Markt and the ACLO Sportcenter at the Zernike campus.
Following the success of the food stand, the trio ended up with the restaurant idea as a solution to share their traditions, and to earn some money to support Ukrainians. “I didn’t have a plan to work in Horeca or to open a restaurant”, Skochdopol said. “Considering the developments of the war in Ukraine, my friends and I decided to help Ukrainians more regularly.”
Ukraine Food has already delivered many aid packages containing food, relief and medical supplies to Ukraine in recent months, and the restaurant’s website has a section dedicated to “achieved results”, featuring a photo gallery of their aid packages being hand-delivered to people who remain in Ukraine.
“Ukrainians must help Ukraine, and if we are not going to do it, who will?”
Valentyna Skochdopol, Ukraine Food co-founder
“It is also a place to discover Ukrainian culture and cuisine. Not many people know Ukrainian culture: it’s nice to tell [about] Ukraine with our typical dishes,” Skochdopol continued.
Over 89,000 Ukrainians have registered as living in a Dutch municipality since February 24 – when the Russian invasion started – according to the latest report by the Dutch Central Bureau for Statistics (CBS). There are currently over 7,800 refugees in the northern provinces, of which 984 are in the city of Groningen.
The International Welcome Center North (IWCN) is a helpful point of contact for refugees coming to the northern Netherlands from Ukraine, with practical information about emergency shelters, legal stay, and other useful resources. For information in Ukrainian, refugees in the northern Netherlands can visit this page.
Watch our interview with co-founder Valentyna Skochdopol: