Sandra Bullock's new heist flick pays homage to a beloved spot for late night perogies.
If you were paying close attention to the new Ocean’s 8 trailer—and I certainly hope that you were—you may have noticed that during one critical scene, Sandra Bullock (playing Debbie Ocean, Danny Ocean’s sister) is enjoying a hearty meal with her partner in crime, played by Cate Blanchett, while the pair plan an elaborate heist that will take just seven people to pull off. You may have been at first distracted by what looks to be Cate Blanchett’s emerald green crushed velvet suit, but if you look behind the two scheming con artists, you'll find a familiar sight: Dark purple lettering, hovering above a yellow banner. It’s the logo for Veselka, the East Village’s most popular Ukrainian diner.
The new movie seems to pay homage the popular 24-hour spot, which has been serving borscht, breakfast pastries, and perhaps it’s most well-known dish, perogies, since 1954. In an area where neighborhood institutions are closing at an alarming rate, Veselka has stubbornly stayed put. And thank goodness for that, because the diner is a well-tread hub of New York City nostalgia.
When I started college in New York, about 9 years ago, I lived in the East Village in what was essentially a closet converted into a bedroom. It had no windows and a lofted twin bed, and I tried to spend as little time as possible there. Inevitably, I took shelter at Veselka at all hours of the night. One year, I decided to take an elective physics class and would sit at the counter until 1 in the morning, studying the class textbook and drinking black coffee. My go-to order was a plate of arugula and goat cheese and potato perogies, with a side of applesauce and sour cream, or if I was in the mood for breakfast, pancakes with sausage links. I was such a frequent face that one morning when I realized that I forgot my wallet while trying to pay for coffee, the cashier gave it to me for free, knowing I would be back to pay for it.
I’m sure there are legions of tourists, longtime East Village residents, and New Yorkers from all over the city, who have similarly fond memories of the diner. In fact, on Twitter, many New Yorkers expressed their surprise and excitement to see the diner featured so prominently in the trailer.
Seeing Veselka pop up in a movie—a movie starring Rihanna!—is the perfect tribute to the city’s legendary diner culture.