city’s Atla, featuring an arctic char/farmers cheese tostada and flaxseed chilaquiles. And Danny
Meyer of Union Square Cafe opened Daily Provisions in February, offering organic Scottish
salmon for dinner, broccoli melt with machego, lemon chili and garlic for lunch, and a variety of
egg sandwiches in the morning.
In the neighborhood
Although 24-hour diners were, until recently, a fixture in many large urban areas, most restaurants
were either luncheonettes that closed midafternoon or dinner venues that closed after evening service.
Veselka, a Ukrainian restaurant located on Manhattan’s Lower East Side that opened in 1954, was
one of the first establishments to serve an all-day full menu. Now, more than half a century later,
Eater’s Ryan Sutton writes, “Veselka might be the city’s best after-hours establishment.”
“When we first started, we were more like a neighborhood candy store, open from 6 a.m. until
midnight,” says owner Tom Birchard, whose father-in-law opened Veselka. “We sold newspapers
and coffee, and a few neighborhood Ukrainian ladies cooked borscht, pierogis and stuffed cabbage.
There was a single waitress who did everything—order-taking, clearing and cleaning up, and often
pitched in cooking, as well. Perfection it was not.”
As the local Ukrainian population—for years the neighborhood’s core—dwindled, and drug
dealers took over many of the streets, Veselka faced a crisis. “We were going into debt,” says
Birchard. “But we never really considered closing. We thought that there was a lot of potential here.
Slowly, we began to grind ourselves out of despair.”
Veselka had a fairly steady lunch crowd of neighborhood shopkeepers, but Birchard made the
decision to stay open as long as there were customers. Because it was one of few restaurants in
the city that served food and remained open after most others closed, Vaselka became the late-
night, post-service gathering place for New York chefs. They spread the word, and gradually, the
Today, Veselka is a gathering place for the increasing number of locals who work from home,
New York University students and medical staff from nearby hospitals. It’s also a destination for
tourists and New Yorkers seeking traditional, well-prepared Ukrainian items. It serves about a
thousand customers each day, and 30-year staffer Malgorcata Sibilski still makes the borscht, using
a half ton of beets each week. Four full-time pierogi preparers come in every day at 2 p.m.
oppoSi Te aNd above, CloCKwiSe
From leFT: 1) at boston’s eastern
Standard, open from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m.,
more-experienced chefs oversee lunch
and dinner and younger chefs run the
late-night kitchen. 2) high Street on
market’s pastrami on rye with cabbage
slaw, russian dressing and Gulden’s
mustard. 3) The Freehand old
fashioned at eastern Standard. 4) A
smorgasbord of favorites at ukrainian
restaurant veselka, which opened in
1954 and was one of the first in New
york to serve an all-day full menu.
5) breakfast pastries at high Street
on market. 6) veselka’s pork/beef
meatball hero with mushroom gravy
on a challah baguette.