By Scott Etkin
Commuters heading to the 59th Street subway at Columbus Circle might notice a chalkboard with a blue-and-yellow heart and the slogans “Slava Ukraini” and “Heroiam Slava!” – meaning “Glory to Ukraine” and “Glory to the Heroes!”
The sign was posted by Blintz Box, a Ukrainian food stall in the Turnstyle underground market, and it is an indication of the resilience of the business and its owners, Sam and Natasha Ilyayev, who are husband and wife.
“It’s been a bumpy road these past few years like it has for many small businesses,” Blintz Box wrote on its website. But after several delays, they opened a stall in Turnstyle in December 2021. After the start of the war with Russia, they began accepting donations to help those affected by the conflict.
In the stall, there are QR codes posted for UnitedHelpUkraine.org, which gives medical supplies and humanitarian aid, as well as ArmySOS.com.ua, which provides direct assistance to the country’s armed forces. “You can donate through us at our store or by visiting these sites directly. 100% of proceeds will go to the aid of Ukrainians and their armed forces,” Blintz Box posted on Facebook. Customers have shown “solidarity” with the cause, said Mr. Ilyayev.
At Blintz Box, you can find “authentic Ukrainian cuisine with an American twist,” including savory blintz wraps, dessert blintz and platter boxes with different protein and side combinations. The full menu is available at the link and orders can be placed through GrubHub.
The Ilyayevs started the business in 2016 and originally called it “Taste of Ukraine.” They first appeared at food fairs in Long Island City and over time expanded to the Queens Night Market and eventually to the Garment District and Columbus Circle holiday markets. The stall in Columbus Circle is considered their permanent location. “We welcome you to join us in being part of our story, and our unending love in providing happiness through food.”