LEWISTON — The war in Ukraine may be thousands of miles away, but that hasn’t stopped Lewiston businesses from helping with relief efforts.
At least six restaurants in the city offer Ukrainian-inspired drinks, dishes and pastries, allowing people to try new cuisines and support Ukrainians at the same time.
All or part of the proceeds from these specials will go to humanitarian aid in Ukraine.
Many businesses said they were inspired by Mayor Carl Sheline, who came up with the idea for local restaurants to offer Ukrainian-inspired dishes to raise awareness of the conflict. A restaurant owner also suggested donating profits.
Sheline spoke to several local restaurants to ask if they would consider offering a special menu item and donating a portion of the proceeds, also posting the idea on Facebook.
“We have Ukrainians in the state, and I think it’s important for them to hear how we feel,” Sheline said. “Even though we are small and seemingly insignificant, it is important that our voice is heard.”
“This outpouring of support shows just how amazing the business community is here in Lewiston,” he added.
Creating internationally inspired dishes is nothing new for Vittles & Variety, a local convenience store and take-out restaurant on Scribner Boulevard.
When the mayor made the call to local restaurants, Bo MacIsaac said his family was quick to join in.
His mother, Anneke, came up with the idea of making borscht, a traditional Ukrainian soup made from beets, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, cabbage and ground pork. Their recipe also includes a garnish of sour cream and parsley.
Sales have been strong, MacIsaac said, and all proceeds will go to World Central Kitchen.
Although a small contribution, MacIsaac said the initiative was worth it.
“If everyone pulls together, it becomes a big help, you know?” he said.
Downtown, in the Bates Mill complex, Baxter Brewing serves the “Sea of Azov,” a blue and yellow cocktail named after the body of water bordering the southeastern border of Ukraine.
Managing director Lauren Williamson said she invented the drink, which features a tropical citrus flavor with “a bit of heat”.
The drink was added to the menu on Wednesday, with all proceeds going to GlobalGiving’s Ukrainian crisis relief fund.
“Creating cocktails has been a big passion for a long time, so being able to bring it to Baxter while supporting a good cause is very satisfying,” she said.
Allen Smith, owner of Forge Market on Lisbon Street, is passionate about baking, said Lewiston manager Phoebe Abner. He created a Ukrainian-inspired poppyseed roll with lemon glaze that the bakery will continue to sell until Sunday.
Each day, the Lewiston and Portland branches make just over a dozen, which sell out quickly, Abner said.
Much like Vittles & Variety and Baxter Brewing, all proceeds from the dish will go to Ukrainian relief funds.
“It was kind of cool that everyone picked different things, just coincidentally,” MacIsaac said. “It wasn’t gambling or anything, but every place had a different dish.”
“We’re really grateful to be in a community where a lot of downtown businesses have really taken this on board and done some really awesome things,” Abner said. “We are happy to be part of it.”
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