Owner of Brighton Beach storefront looks to name change in solidarity with Ukraine

Taste of Russia 2022
A Ukrainian flag now hangs in the window of a Brighton Beach storefront once called “Taste of Russia,” as the business undergoes a rebranding in solidarity with the country under seige.
Photo by Mikaela Wegner

A longstanding Brighton Beach business that once bore the name Taste of Russia is undergoing a rebranding, owners said, in solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

Shop owner Bobby Rakhman has operated the Brighton Beach Avenue storefront formerly known as Taste of Russia for just three years, but the business’ roots run deep in the largely Ukranian neighborhood: the local grocery and bakery has called the southern Brooklyn neighborhood home for closer to three decades.

Last week, Rakhman and his business partner had a large sign bearing the business’ former name taken down in support of the local community, dubbed “Little Odessa,” as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s troops continue to decimate major cities and occupy Ukrainian sovereign territory.

“I have a lot of people that are from Ukraine, and have family there, parents, and brothers and sisters and kids,” Rakhman said, “so I’m in solitude with all these people.”

Rakhman said the removal of their sign and the store’s new naming is not so much a business decision as it is a symbolic statement.

“Myself [and] my partner feel very uncomfortable with that name as well,” he said of Taste of Russia. “We just feel that it’s the right thing to do.”

Although Google now lists the business as “Taste of Ukraine,” Rakhman said that will not be the new moniker (though a large Ukrainian flag now hangs in the shop’s wind0w). The new name will instead focus on neither country, and will be announced via social media as early as this week, when the new sign is mounted.

While he already had a name in mind Friday, Rakhman told Brooklyn Paper he wants the community to be the first to see it — the same people that have known and loved Taste of Russia for generations.

“I hope the rest of the community will understand my decision on the name change, and I just hope the rest of the community is going to support me and my partner,” he said. “And I’m sure it’s going to mean a lot to the community once the name is revealed.”