Three friends forced to flee war setting up Ukrainian restaurant in Wales
Three Ukrainian friends who have left their war-torn country have decided to launch a crowdfunding campaign in a bid to set up their own restaurant in north Wales. Julia ‘Yuliia’ Mikhailova, her friends Katya and Olya and their children, left Ukraine in April of this year, and have since resettled in the Caernarfon area of Gwynedd. According to Yuliia, the three women have different professions but one thing unites them, which is a passion for cooking.
As an attempt to remain closer to home as well as embracing their new one, the group of friends are determined to set up their own Ukrainian cuisine restaurant in north Wales. Read more: Ukraine football fan gets lost in Cardiff and has amazing Welsh welcome “We want to open a Ukrainian restaurant in north Wales and call it Sunflower,” Yulia explained to WalesOnline. “I thought about opening a restaurant back in Ukraine, but inner fears stopped me.
“Everyone here praises the food that I cook, and my friends cook well – so we started to find out how realistic it was to open a restaurant or a food truck in north Wales. It turned out that this is quite possible.” The aim of the restaurant is to serve Ukrainian signature dishes such as borsch, dumplings, Kyiv cutlets, as well as mixed Ukrainian-British dishes.
According to Yuliia, British and Ukrainian cuisines are quite similar and she hopes to infuse both not only to introduce the people of north Wales to new foods, but also try and help her fellow countrymen. Yuliia said: “When meeting Ukrainians who came to north Wales, I learned that our artists also came here. I think it will be interesting to design a restaurant in our national style with them.
“In addition, having gone abroad, you ask yourself the question – so, I’m safe, how can I help those who remain, those whose houses are destroyed, those who defend our homeland at the front? Therefore, my friends and I decided that we would definitely transfer part of the profits to the fund for helping victims of the war.”
Julia ‘Yuliia’ Mikhailova says she enjoys living in north Wales after fleeing from the northeastern city of Kharkiv in Ukraine (Image: Julia Mikhailova)
Yuliia is originally from Kharkiv – Ukraine’s second largest city, which is located in the north eastern part of the country. The city has been heavily targeted by Russian shelling, with many residents killed and city buildings destroyed.
Yuliia remembers the start of the invasion very well. She recalled: “The first day of the war was very scary. We woke up from the sound of artillery shots and immediately began to collect things.
The children were still sleeping and we did not wake them up. Having collected three backpacks and a pram, we left the house and began our journey into the unknown. “Under the sounds of shelling, we left the city.
Kharkiv is a big city with one and a half million inhabitants, so all the roads have turned into long traffic jams. We still managed to leave the city and continue our way to the Moldovan border. It was also quite difficult both physically and emotionally.”
Yuliia’s friend Olya, who she met after they moved to north Wales in April (Image: Julia Mikhailova)Katya exploring what north Wales has to offer after fleeing from Ukraine and resettling in the area (Image: Julia Mikhailova)
She added: “Nevertheless, our whole life remained in Kharkiv.
But the safety of children is more important, so we do not regret our decision to temporarily leave Ukraine.” Yuliia has known Katya for many years, who came to north Wales following Yuliia’s recommendation. The two met Olya in the area, but according to Yulia, it feels like they have been “friends for a long time”.
“The war has united many Ukrainians,” Yuliia said. “We seem to be brothers and sisters. “We love living in north Wales. It’s quiet and peaceful here, with very friendly people.
There is also wonderful nature here. We wake up to the singing of birds, a lot of green pastures with sheep and cows. “True, the weather is often windy and rainy, which we are getting used to for the time being.
There are quite a lot of similarities with Ukraine, but there are also significant differences. In general, we feel comfortable here.” According to Yuliia, opening a restaurant would be a “dream come true”.
The three friends have been busy looking into how to open and run a business. Yuliia added: “It will be a big responsibility, but I feel excitement and joy by the idea of opening a restaurant here. “My friends and I are looking forward to this.
Food is what brings people together and that idea is so important right now.”