Friday, June 7, 2024

At the reopening of longtime East Village staple Streecha Ukrainian Kitchen

Photos from May 31 
Reporting by Stacie Joy 

A refurbished Streecha Ukrainian Kitchen reopened last Friday in the basement space it has used for the past 50 years at 33 E. Seventh St. between Second Avenue and Cooper Square. 

Several people were waiting in line to enter before the announced 11 a.m. opening time. 

Rev. Father Johan Lubiv, the administrator of St. George Ukrainian Catholic Church for the past four years, greeted me inside.
In the days before the reopening, the space received a deep clean and fresh coat of paint. While a new volunteer staff runs operations, Streecha features the same menu items and prices, with funds going to St. George down the block. (Streecha has long served as a fundraising arm for the church.)
Ahead of the reopening, there was some confusion over Streecha's future. On May 23, Dima Kovalenko, who the church hired to be its chef and run the kitchen nine years ago, announced on Instagram that Streecha had permanently closed and that the "property owner" had other plans for the basement space. (Kovalenko, meanwhile, found a backer and will be opening a pop-up space under a new name nearby offering a similar fare.) 

In a previous interview, Father Johan explained some of the misunderstandings. "I said to Dima to say, 'I am not working at Streecha, but Streecha continues to function.' This is misleading information that Streecha is closed." 

Father Johan said St. George hired Kovalenko to run Streecha, though he claims he had "turned it into a private business, and that is not what this space is for." 

Streecha will be open Friday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Lmknyc said...

Great news! Welcome back 🤗

Anonymous said...

Great that Streecha is open

Vidal: Inside- Out said...

The food will not be the same without Dima. I'm in no rush to go.

Anonymous said...

As a longtime patron, I suspect that we are not getting the full story, but that both sides are being publicly civil. Seems that Mr. K and the pastor had a falling out. Not unusual in a parish situation. Or that there was an issue with Health Department officials and someone is being scapegoated. Or is the Pastor actually complaining that Dima was TOO successful? Were the proceeds not being distributed according to an agreed upon
Plan? From before the place became Instagram famous? Or was it simply a power/ego struggle?

Carol from East 5th Street said...

Have to say in some ways I agree with Vidal. The food was good but not as delicious as previously.
Last Friday the fish was good but not as good as Dima's filet gently fried however the accompaniments were excellent and generous. The stuffed cabbage was good (same as I used to get at Baczynski on Saturday but cheaper) but Dima's was much tastier. Going to try the Kielbasa with saukraut this Saturday. Dima's saurkraut was unlike any I've ever had and was DELICIOUS.
Making these critiques only because I want them to succeed. We love you and want you to continue your work in our neighborhood.

DrGecko said...

They should sell t-shirts.

Anonymous said...

Something here is not adding up. This feels like an unsuccessful publicity campaign to clean up a bit of a mess. It is obvious that a lot is being left out in-between the lines.

The way it stands now it is starting to feel like a bigger deal than perhaps it might be. I am beginning to feel manipulated. I will wait to hear more before I return and lend my support.

mike said...

I, for one, embrace the change and a new beginning. Historically, Streecha was a modest establishment. The previous chef and his family increased its fame via social media, but ultimately, I believe the church does not intend for it to become a local landmark attracting large crowds. Traditionally, it has been a low-key spot known to locals. Dima was probably doing well financially since his family also worked there, and I can see why he would be disappointed. After all, it's a church-owned property and was never meant to be a profit-making venture.

Shadowwhispers said...

I'm glad I can still get a meal in the neighborhood that I can afford. I agree that Dima's food was a bit tastier, and I look forward to his next iteration. Whatever's going on, or went down it's none of my business.