Mar 21, 2022 - Food and Drink

Washington's local Russia boycott

A shopping center with multiple store fronts.
The former Russian Gourmet has changed its name to European Gourmet and Deli. Photo: Paige Hopkins/Axios

Just off of the GW Parkway, one of northern Virginia’s popular international grocery stores has a conspicuous blank spot on its signage. The owners of the store formerly known as Russian Gourmet have taken down half their sign and changed the name to European Gourmet and Deli in part due to negative reviews online following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Why it matters: The name change is yet another example of the war pushing Washingtonians to distance themselves from Russia as fallout from Putin’s invasion hits locals who have nothing to do with it.

What’s happening: Dacha, the popular beer garden, has Russian owners and a number of Ukrainian employees, has so far raised $21,000 from sales and matching funds that will go to UNICEF and other organizations helping war victims.

European Gourmet's owners, who are from Moldova and have Ukrainian relatives, tell Axios they’d long considered a name change because they sell products from all over Eastern Europe. The invasion of Ukraine was the final “kick in the pants,” said Victor P., the store owner’s son, who preferred to only give his first name.

  • Plus, the Alexandria business owners are anticipating a severe shortage of Russian goods. 

What they’re saying: “Our hearts are breaking for people who are hurting. Families both in Ukraine, in Russia, and other surrounding countries that are affected, and also the Ukrainian and Russian communities around here. People are hurting … We’re just doing our best,” Victor says. Other businesses are following suit. 

  • KNEAD Restaurants says it stopped serving Russian vodkas.
  • The Russian Gourmet Food store in McLean issued a statement on Facebook expressing sympathy for Ukrainians and asking customers not to direct hate toward their staff.

Yes, but: Americans don’t use many products that are actually Russian, the New York Times reports. As a result, vodka and Russian-product boycotts may not have much of an impact.

  • How to help: Besides Dacha, there are a number of local businesses and nonprofits supporting Ukrainians, including World Central Kitchen led by chef José Andrés.
  • The Washington Post has a full roundup of ways to help. 
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