Coming together: Local restaurants react to Russian Ukraine invasion

Published: Feb. 28, 2022 at 6:15 PM CST
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DULUTH, MN. (KBJR) -Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused global protest from large rallies down to boycotting Russian-made products, including vodka distilled in Russia.

“I think it’s great for businesses to take a stand about issues that are important to them absolutely,” said Carla Blumberg, co-owner of At Sara’s Table Café in Duluth.

She said the Russian-Ukrainian conflict is a chance to take a stand.

“Instead of having an anti-Russian thing, we’d have a pro-Ukrainian thing,” Blumberg said.

Blumberg said she wants to use this moment to spread awareness of Ukrainian culture through new menu items, rather than focus on an Anti-Russia narrative.

“We’ll probably advertise that and try to educate people about what that country is really about,” she said.

Blumberg emphasized it’s important for people to distinguish between people and government.

“Russia is Russia, Putin is Putin, and those two things are not equivalent,” Blumberg said.

It’s an idea Burrito Union owner Rod Raymond echoes.

“The Russian people are my friends, the Ukrainians are my friends,” Raymond said.

Burrito Union was built around themes of Russian history, but Raymond said the restaurant theme is about unity, compassion and people, not autocratic governments.

“Come and just talk, it’s not the pub, it’s the gathering of people,” Raymond said. “Let’s come together because the world will be a better place coming together rather than not.”

Raymond has spent time in both Russia and Ukraine. He said having conversations about the conflict is important.

“I think the answers lie in the small ideas,” Raymond said. “Because when they all come together, it’s a large idea.”

Neither At Sara’s Table nor Burrito Union serves Russian distilled liquor.

According to the Distilled Spirits Council, only around 1.5 percent of vodka imported to the US in 2021 came from Russia.

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