SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – The owner of a Russian restaurant in downtown San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter told ABC 10News that his business has experienced some difficulties amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict in eastern Europe.
“We’ve been going through some hate mail. We’ve had a lot of people call and leave threats. Call us and, you know, say that they’re going to come in and break the restaurant or blame us for what’s happening overseas,” said Ike Gazaryan, the owner of Pushkin Russian Restaurant & Bar.
Gazaryan also said people have been leaving negative one-star reviews about the restaurant on Yelp and Google, claiming the eatery is supportive of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“More than half of my employees are Ukrainian. I’m myself Armenian. It is a Russian restaurant only by the name,” Gazaryan said.
The owner said that couldn’t be further from the truth about his restaurant and their stance on the conflict.
“It bothers me mostly because it’s the other way around. I’ve donated money to the Ukrainian cause. I’ve given money to my employees to send back to their parents in Ukraine,” Gazaryan added. “We proudly have our employees wear Ukrainian flags on, you know, paintings on their face. We’re all for this war to end as soon as possible.”
Gazaryan wished people would learn about those who work and own a business before jumping to conclusions about it, regardless of what may be on the front windows.
And when it comes to changing the restaurant’s name, that’s not on the menu.
“I could change it to European, I could change it to anything. But I want to show respect to those Russians that live in the United States and they’re against the war. Because there’s a lot of them,” Gazaryan said.
The owner said they’ve been able to get the negative Yelp reviews taken down but are still working to get the Google negative reviews removed.
Gazaryan added that their dishes on the menu aren’t Russian or derive from Russian origin but, coming from different cuisines as well.