After months of searching, a local-favorite cottage kitchen has its own storefront.
Pierogi Bar bought the Mediterranean and New American restaurant O’Bistro on Thursday and will turn it into a Ukrainian diner, said Roman Voloshyn, who helps his daughter, owner Daryna Voloshyn, with the operations.
It’ll be the first Ukrainian restaurant in the Tampa Bay area once the takeover is complete. Roman said there’s no set timeline for how long that will take. The restaurant space is located next to Craft Kafe, a few minutes from the bridge to Treasure Island, at 6661 Central Ave. in St. Petersburg.
Daryna has operated Pierogi Bar out of her home, after friends asked her to make more borscht, a red beet soup, and the Slavic dumplings known as pierogi. Florida has strict rules on selling food from a home kitchen that prohibits the use of meat or food delivery services such as UberEats.
While the transition takes place, Roman said the family has stopped taking orders from their home kitchen. They plan to rename O’Bistro to Pierogi Bar St. Pete and will train staff to use their century-old family recipes.
Their original menu had potato pancakes, Ukrainian borscht and pierogi with potato, cheese, mushroom, sauerkraut and cherry fillings. With the acquisition, they plan to expand the menu to possibly include kiełbasa (a Polish sausage), stuffed cabbages, shashlik (a Ukrainian-style kebab) and more traditional Ukrainian soups typically made with meaty broths.
They’ve wanted to open a traditional restaurant for months but have struggled as business rents have spiked with the hot real estate market. Vacancy rates have dropped to their lowest points in a decade and the cost per square foot for retail and restaurant space has gone up 7.1 percent, according to a report from the Tampa-based commercial real estate firm Franklin Street.
“We are extremely excited because everything worked out fine,” Roman said. “We have a space and we are working toward having a place that is famous and successful.”
The Voloshyn family fled Ukraine for Florida in 2002, not long after the Soviet Union collapsed and the country struggled with corruption. They’re originally from Lviv, a western Ukrainian city about 50 miles from the border with Poland, which has since become a refuge for people trying to escape fighting since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion of the nation two months ago.
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After the invasion, orders were constant at the Pierogi Bar as people wanted to show support for Ukraine. Daryna said at the start of the war that cooking was a way she could do something and educate people about a culture that is under attack. While pierogi are commonly considered Polish, her father said they take pride that Ukraine was an important highway for spreading dumplings between Asia and Europe — no matter who invented them.
“We’ve had a very positive response and we really appreciate this local community,” Roman said.