The famed Odessa Restaurant in the East Village will be closing its doors for good this Sunday, July 19th. Located at 119 Avenue A between Seventh Street and St. Mark’s Place, the Ukrainian eatery was a neighborhood staple and a favorite late night stop for partygoers. Its closure marks yet another business shutting its doors for good in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The sad news was confirmed by the diner’s longtime manager, Dennis Vassilatos to the website EVGrieve. He said that Odessa is shutting down solely because of the significant loss of business during the pandemic. The restaurant is famous for being open 24 hours on weekends, yet scaled back on its hours when they reopened for delivery and take out only back in April. Mike Skulikidis, the restaurants co-owner, is also the landlord of the building, meaning that rent increase did not contribute to the diner’s closing.
The restaurant opened in 1994, and much like Katz’s Deli, was known for its reasonable prices and huge portion sizes. The pierogis are a staple menu item, but other options include kasha varnishkes, blintzes and borscht, in addition to American breakfast staples.
The restaurant was also originally the spinoff of the Odessa Bar which used to reside next door, a quiet dive bar opened in the 1980s that closed first in 2013. To commemorate the bar’s closure, Janos Marton (now running for Manhattan District Attorney) wrote a moving tribute for Untapped New York that discussed the establishment’s importance to the East Village, a piece that again feels relevant as the diner closes too.
Sign when Odessa Bar was closing in 2013
“When Odessa shuttered its doors early Sunday morning, New York City bid farewell to one of its finest dive bars,” wrote Marton. “For many years Odessa had defied the ritzification of the neighborhood, continuing to offer up cheap drinks, so-so service, and an empty retreat on a weekend night.”
As New York continues with its reopening plans, the future of many small New York City establishments are still in question. The fate of indoor dining is also still unknown, as it was removed from the Phase Three reopening due to rising COVID-19 cases throughout the country. Reopening aside though, the Odessa Restaurant has now gone the way of other famous East Village establishments such as Manitoba’s, the Grassroots Tavern, and its own next door bar that have all closed in recent years. The diner will be open until Sunday should you want to grab one last pierogi.