Co-owner of ‘Taste of Russia’ in Brighton Beach takes down iconic sign amid Ukrainian invasion
New York City has the largest population of Russian-speaking immigrants in the country. Now, local businesses that have served the Russian and Ukrainian communities for decades are figuring out how to weather the storm.
Bobby Rakhman, the co-owner of Taste of Russia, tells News 12 he made the decision to take down his iconic sign as an act of solidarity after the Russian invasion.
Although Google Maps says it has been renamed “Taste of Ukraine”, he says that is not the case.
"It's going to be a completely different name that doesn't have anything to do with any countries,” said Rakhman.
Inside the store is a range of international-themed food, with a focus on Eastern Europe. Rakhman says the community will see the rebranding as early as next week.
There is heightened awareness of the war everywhere in Brighton Beach, from Ukrainian flags hanging outside pharmacy windows to fashion mannequins in a boutique dressed in blue and yellow.
However, some businesses say they feel concerned that the boycott can spill over and affect Russian immigrants, most of whom fled an oppressive regime decades ago.
Michael Levitis is an admin of a popular Facebook group for former Soviet immigrants. Recently, he says the group has been one way of promoting local fundraisers to help Ukraine but that he is facing pressure.
"Even my Facebook group Russian Insider, there was pressure from some of my members to change it to Russian-speaking Insider. After taking a poll, we decided not to do it because my group has been very inclusive,” said Levitis.