Ukrainian-owned SF restaurant receives social media threats

A Ukrainian-owned restaurant in San Francisco received threats on social media this week, but offline, an uptick in business from locals showing support for Ukraine amid violence from the Russian military invasion.

Sergey Shukaylo, the co-owner of Pushkin, a restaurant located near the Ukrainian Consulate in San Francisco, on Belden Place, put a printed out QR code near the cash register of his restaurant for customers interested in sending money to help Ukraine. 

Shukaylo has been speaking nightly with his parents and siblings who still live in Donetsk, the region of Eastern Ukraine where pro-Russian separatists clash with Ukrainian government forces. Grim images Friday showed homes there damaged by missiles.

Shukaylo's family and friends are praying for peace and for Ukrainian sovereignty. Some of them have gone to bomb shelters, others have fled the city, and others have stayed at home, he said.

After posting a Ukrainian flag on Pushkin's Instagram account, on Friday Shukaylo posted a plea, "no need to threaten our business," it said in part.

"Definitely not what we appreciate, to have some hateful speech against this situation…or against our business or people working here," Shukaylo said.

Thursday, East Bay representative Eric Swalwell (D-Castro Valley) told CNN he strongly condemned the Russian invasion, and called for the U.S. to impose tougher consequences.

Part of his list of suggestions for how the U.S, could be tougher on Putin included "closing the embassy in the U.S., kicking every Russian student out of the U.S." he told CNN.

In a text message to the San Francisco Chronicle, Swalwell said he has several ideas to destabilize Putin, suggesting removing Russian students from the U.S. was just one of them.

Shukaylo says supporting Ukraine means supporting everyone who lives there, Russian civilians included.

"It's not only Ukrainian who live in our country," he said.

Customers looking for an escape from their news feeds came to Pushkin Friday for dinner, to feed a desire to help.

Toby Mauer, a San Francisco resident who grew up in Edmonton, Alberta, home to a large Ukrainian population, said she grew up eating Ukrainian food, and came to Pushkin for a bit of comfort.

"Just listening to the news all day and night, just thinking about the people," Mauer said, "I just wanted the food, and to be closer to the Ukrainians."