Arlington, TX – More or less, the Russian invasion of Ukraine affects every single part of the world in one way or another.
A restaurant owner based in North Texas had felt the consequences of the invasion on his own, after the had received threats since the start of the invasion last week.
Valentin Tsalko is the owner of the Taste of Europe restaurant in Arlington. His restaurant has been successfully operating in the area since the early 2000s without any problems until the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine last week.
According to Tsalko, his restaurant features a gift shop which he called “Russian gift shop” and the sing has been on its place for years. But he now decided to cover the word Russian because of the numerous threats he had received since last week.
Although Tsalko’s restaurant is very successful in what they are doing and it was highlighted on Food Network for their Eastern European and Russian cuisine, the owners and the employees now feel the pressure of the Russian invasion, something that has nothing to do with the owners or the employees.
“On the actual sign, it was Taste of Europe and Russian Gift Shop,” said Valentin Tsalko, the owner of Taste of Europe. “Random people calling us on private numbers, yelling at us on the phone saying they hate us. Threatening vandalization,” explained Tsalko, who took over the restaurant and store his grandfather started.
Although Tsalko and his family are from Belarus, the word Russian at the sign of the restaurant had been there for customers looking to buy food from that region.
“The Russia part was a general location, for a general region for people to know where things were coming from,” he said. “It wasn’t specific that it was just Russian gift, it was the entire Slavic area.”
In the past, the gift shop featured a lot of Russian items for sale, but since the start of the invasion, all of them are now removed. Instead, Tsalko has placed a Ukrainian flag at the window of the store and another Ukrainian flag in the restaurant with the words “Stop War.”
With displaying the flags in both the restaurant and the gift shop, Tsalko said he wanted to make people know where their restaurant stands in the conflict. According to him, they have family relatives on the other part of the world and they pray for them.
He even made sure to highlight items on the menu and the country of origin for each recipe, according to him.
“The Borscht we make, it says traditional Ukrainian. We have a Ukrainian recipe, before it would just say Red Beet soup Borscht, now very specific,” he added.
Tsalko hopes the conflict between Russia and Ukraine will end up soon and things will get back to normal.