A young Ukrainian couple has opened a new restaurant called UFO — Ukrainian Food Awesome, in the Smithers airport
The owners, Pavel and Tanya Anokhin, lived in Alberta for five years and moved to Smithers last year with their two children after falling in love with the area while visiting friends.
It has been difficult for businesses to thrive in the café space in the airport, and last summer the Town released a request for proposals, seeking a new business to fill the space yet again.
Pavel was in the tech industry, and Tanya is a chemical engineer by trade, but opportunities were limited in Smithers. The couple had some experience in the food industry, but had never before considered opening their own restaurant. After submitting their proposal in July, they received notification that they were successful on Aug. 1. With only one month to prepare, they opened their doors for business on Sept. 1.
Beyond standard snacks and refreshments, they serve an impressive range of traditional Ukrainian food. You’ll find familiar items such as borscht, perogies, crepes, and cabbage rolls, as well as specialties such as pelmeni (meat perogies), cherry perogies, and a Ukrainian take on a burger that is served with sauerkraut and a special carrot salad. Be warned, though — their menu says the burger may cause tears of happiness. They’re confident that their traditional hot chocolate — so thick it must be eaten with a spoon — will be the best you’ve ever had.
They characterize traditional Ukrainian food as delicious and healthy. Recipes are generations old and prepared here with local ingredients whenever possible. Most food is organic, including their coffee, ice cream, smoothies, and meats. And it is all made in-house, right down to the perogies, sausages, and daily baked goods.
They say they are enjoying living in Smithers, with its natural beauty, friendly people, and outdoor activities. They’ve received many compliments from airport patrons who were surprised to find the best airport food they’ve ever had in a place as small as Smithers. And they say they are getting more customers who are coming out for the food, even though they’ve got no flight to catch.
The cafe offers catering services, and is able to host special events, including kids’ birthday parties with entertainment, and private romantic suppers. Future plans include organizing movie nights, and providing instruction in language, culture, and arts. They are hosting a Ukrainian Christmas Dinner at the Old Church on Jan. 6.
UFO — Ukrainian Food Owesome is located in the Smithers airport. It is open Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the summer, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the winter with some Saturdays to host skiers. They can be contacted via their Facebook page, or at 250-847-1061.