Bo MacIsaac holds a bowl of borscht Thursday afternoon from the family business, Vittles & Variety in Lewiston. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

LEWISTON — The war in Ukraine may be thousands of miles away, but that hasn’t stopped Lewiston businesses from pitching in to support relief efforts.

At least six eateries around town have crafted Ukrainian-inspired drinks, dishes and pastries, enabling people to try new cuisine and support Ukrainians at the same time.

All or part of the proceeds from these specials will go toward humanitarian aid in Ukraine.

Many of the businesses said they were inspired by Mayor Carl Sheline, who came up with the idea for local restaurants to offer Ukraine-inspired fare to raise awareness of the conflict. A restaurant owner suggested donating the proceeds, too.

Sheline spoke with several local restaurants to ask if they would consider offering a special menu item and donating a portion of the proceeds, additionally posting the idea to 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’re small and seemingly inconsequential, it’s important for our voice to be heard.”


“This outpouring of support just speaks to how incredible the business community is here in Lewiston,” he added.

Creating internationally-inspired dishes is nothing new for Vittles & Variety, a locally-owned convenience store and takeout restaurant on Scribner Boulevard.

When the mayor put out the call to local restaurants, Bo MacIsaac said his family was quick to join in.

His mother, Anneke, came up with the idea to prepare borscht, a traditional Ukrainian soup made with beets, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, cabbage and ground pork. Their recipe also includes a sour cream and parsley topping.

Sales have been strong, MacIsaac said, and all proceeds are going toward the World Central Kitchen.

Although it may be a small contribution, MacIsaac said the initiative is worth doing.


Lauren Williamson, general manager of the Pub at Baxter Brewing, created a cocktail, the Sea of Azov, to honor the citizens of Ukraine. The tropical cocktail with a hint of spice is named after the sea that borders Ukraine and features ingredients that showcase the colors of the Ukrainian flag. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

“If everyone pulls together, then it does become a significant help, you know?” he said.

Downtown in the Bates Mill complex, Baxter Brewing is serving the “Sea of Azov,” a blue and yellow cocktail named after the body of water bordering Ukraine’s southeastern border.

General Manager Lauren Williamson said she came up with the drink, which features a tropical citrus flavor with “a little bit of heat.”

The drink was added to the menu Wednesday, and all proceeds will go toward GlobalGiving’s Ukraine crisis relief fund.

“Making cocktails has been a big passion for a long time, so to be able to bring it into Baxter while supporting a good cause is very satisfying,” she said.

Allen Smith, owner of Forge Market on Lisbon Street, is passionate about pastry making, said Lewiston Manager Phoebe Abner. He created a Ukrainian-inspired poppy seed roll with a lemon glaze which 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.

Just like Vittles & Variety and Baxter Brewing, all of the proceeds from the dish will go toward Ukraine relief funds.

“It was kind of cool that everyone chose different things, just by coincidence,” MacIsaac said. “That wasn’t playing or anything, but every place had a different dish.”

“We’re really appreciative to be in a community that a lot of the businesses downtown have really taken a hold of this and done some really awesome things,” Abner said. “We’re happy to be a part of that.”

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