A restaurant serving Russian food in America rebrands itself after Russia invades Ukraine

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Aug 9, 2015
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A restaurant serving Russian food
A restaurant in Arlington, Texas, called its food "Russian" for the past two decades. But threats were made after Russia invaded Ukraine, and now the restaurant is rebranding to "Eastern European."

A MARTINEZ, HOST:
Businesses with Russia in their names are facing hardships and even threats since Russia's invasion of Ukraine. One restaurant and grocery in Arlington, Texas quickly rebranded itself. And KERA's Kailey Broussard reports it's now gaining new customers.

KAILEY BROUSSARD, BYLINE: The sign outside Val Tsalko’s family business advertised Russian gifts for years. It was convenient marketing to tell the customers what to expect, even though Tsalko is from Belarus and some of the restaurant's most popular menu items are Ukrainian, like the borscht and chicken Kyiv.

VAL TSALKO: No one really knew about Ukraine until two weeks ago. They still don't know where Belarus is, where I'm from. So we kind of use that as, like, a general term, and a lot of our stuff is not even Russian.

BROUSSARD: Tsalko's restaurant is called Taste of Europe, but some people focused on that word Russian on his sign. He says there were death threats and even a puzzling accusation that he's part of the KGB, Russia's long-defunct security agency.

TSALKO: Been here for, like, 22 years. Like, yes, OK, you know - I was a sleeper agent at the age of 4. Yeah, that sounds about right.

BROUSSARD: Tsalko and his staff are already working on new signs and menus. But after the threats, they switched everything in a day and blacked out the word Russian on the sign. It was a smart business move, but he was also concerned about safety.
 
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