Ukrainians dine in the dark at restaurants amid power outages

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Ukrainians dine in the dark at restaurants amid power outages

It’s not the kind of candlelight dinner you hope for.

Restaurants in the dark across Ukraine have been forced to adapt with so-called “blackout menus” and candles after months of Russian bombardment decimated the nation’s power grid.

At Ha Sichovy, a restaurant in Kyiv’s Shevchenkivskyi District, bartender Artyom Goron fired up a portable camping stove last Friday to boil water for coffee.

Working by candlelight, Goron, 23, told The Post that Ha Sichovy was too small to justify the expense of a generator — and that it would only “make [a] fire” if they tried to run one anyway.

The Ukrainian capital has been struggling with power outages since October, when Russian forces began a concerted effort to target the nation’s power grid. Kyiv, like other cities in Ukraine, has instituted rolling blackouts to distribute the pain, sending what little power remains to different sections of the city on a schedule.

A pot of water on a camping stove by candlelight
Bartender Artyom Goron makes coffee on a camping stove.
Pete Kiehart for NY Post
Lightbulbs hang dormant by candlelight
The lights went dark at Ha Sichovy, Friday. The restaurant in Kyiv’s Shevchenkivskyi District is among those struggling to adapt to the damage done to the Ukrainian power grid.
Pete Kiehart for NY Post
A man making food by dim light
Konstantyn Tsiolek prepares borsch at Ha Sichovy.
Pete Kiehart for NY Post

Goron said the power had gone out some time after noon on Friday, leaving Ha Sichovy in the dark. On a piece of paper taped to the bar, patrons could find the restaurant’s bank account number — a way to facilitate payment when the credit card machines went down.

Light bulbs hanging from the ceiling stayed dark, save for the glint of candlelight reflected in the glass.

Chef Konstantyn Tsiolek, 38, made borsch by headlamp Friday — as patrons ate by candlelight.

In a country where many restaurants direct patrons to QR codes that link to virtual menus, the power outages have brought back an old-school twist: menus printed on paper.

Across the street at Vino e Cucina, an upscale Italian restaurant, a newly purchased generator brought hope that they could retire their so-called “blackout menu.”

At the restaurant, wood-fired ovens meant pizza was on the menu regardless of power loss — along with cold appetizers and salads.

A man eating by candlelight
Andrii Nagneev, 27, eats a bowl of borsch from the kitchen at Ha Sichovy.
Pete Kiehart for NY Post
A man smokes behind a building
Vino e Cucina employees smoke outside a back door adjacent to the restaurant’s generator, left, on December 9, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Pete Kiehart for NY Post
a menu in ukrainian
Vino e Cucina’s “Menu in case of power outage.” The rolling blackouts have caused many restaurants to return to paper menus.
Pete Kiehart for NY Post
a man places a menu by candlelight
Artyom Goron, 23, prepares for customers to arrive to Ha Sichovy. Goron said that the restaurant had been without power since noon that day.
Pete Kiehart for NY Post

The Supra Daily Restaurant at the Bursa Hotel in central Kyiv has recently upgraded its backup generator as well. Still, power is intermittent.

“Oops, someone used a hair dryer,” Valeria Mamysheva, the restaurant’s manager, quipped as the lights clicked off.

The situation in Kyiv is a reflection of the broader reality of Russia’s assault on civilian infrastructure that stepped up in response to Ukrainian gains in the fall.

Ukraine and its allies have accused Russia of intentionally targeting power plants in an effort to “weaponize winter,” depriving civilians of heat ahead of Ukraine’s coldest months.

Millions remained without power Monday after a fresh round of bombardment targeted Ukrainian infrastructure.

A restaurant patron sitting in the dark.
Patrons sit at a table during a scheduled power outage at Podil East India Club on December 9, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Pete Kiehart for NY Post
A blacked out street in Kyiv
A police officer directs traffic on a blacked-out street in central Kyiv on on December 9, 2022.
Pete Kiehart for NY Post

The shelling also killed at least two people in the recently liberated city of Kherson, according to regional authorities.

Russia struck two power facilities near Odessa over the weekend with Iranian-made suicide drones, plunging much of the historic port city into darkness. Operations at the port resumed Monday, and Ukrainian energy provider Ukrenergo said it was working to restore power to the 1.5 million people affected, but the situation remained difficult.

Meanwhile, despite relative quiet on the front lines, fierce fighting continued in the eastern city of Bakhmut — in the Donetsk province — where Russian forces and Wagner Group paramilitaries have been trying for months to take the city.

A senior US military source told reporters at a background briefing Monday that Ukrainian forces “continue to hold the line” near Bakhmut, but that Russian fighters had gained an “incremental” amount of territory.

Additional reporting by Caitlin Doornbos and wires

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