Suburban Bars, Distributors Show Support for Ukraine by Boycotting Russian Brands

The businesses are instead promoting Ukranian beer, wine and spirits

NBC Universal, Inc.

Suburban import and distributor, Inter-Trade USA Company, based in Wheeling, notified its partners Monday it would no longer carry or sell Russian products.

"Whether it’s beer, wine [or] spirits, we’re not going to be offering it any more to any of the stores, restaurants, bars in the state of Illinois," said Boris Brudno, the executive director at Inter-Trade.

The company will take a hit to its bottom line, a $30,000 loss in total current product, according to Brudno.

"It’s not always about the money. It’s about what’s right, and this is the right thing to do," he said.

Company owner, Vitaliy Lukhin, was born and raised in Ukraine. His wife's family still lives near Lviv. Several of his employees are also Ukrainian.

He called what's happening in his country a "genocide of Ukrainian people."

"Children are [being] killed, and I think everybody right now [is] supposed to step up to help Ukraine," said Luhkin.

He said he's proud to be Ukranian, and the decision to pull Russian products from their warehouse shelves was an easy one, despite the cost.

Brudno said the company's partners are supportive of the move and are instead seeking Ukrainian products to promote and serve. They nearly sold out of Ukranian beer in just a few days.

One of their clients, Grand Duke's Restaurant, in Downer's Grove is following suit, pulling Russian products from the bar.

"We got Ukrainian brandy in, Ukrainian vodka, extra Ukrainian beer. We had a couple already, but we got give more. Wine also," said restaurant owner, Andrius Bucas.

Bucas is donating profits from Ukrainian alcohol sold at his restaurant to Global Empowerment Mission (GEM), an organization with volunteers on the ground in Poland helping relocate Ukrainian refugees.

"Lots of restaurants are doing it, liquor stores are doing it. So, I guess, little by little it can make an impact," said Bucas.

Patrons are also doing their part to stand with Ukraine, ordering beer and taking bottles of wine to go.

"We each bought a bottle," said Grand Duke's customer Mary Ann Monk, gesturing to her niece.

"We figured we could support the country in some way because it’s very sad what’s happening over there," said Paula Moore, another customer.

Liquor store chain, Binny's Beverage Depot, is also taking a stand.

In a statement to NBC 5, the company said, "We are removing the small handful of Russian products from sale at Binny's stores and website. It's noteworthy that many vodkas, even those with Russian sounding names, are made in places close to home, including Plainfield and Gurnee."

Well-known Vodka brands, often associated with Russia, like Smirnoff and Stolichnaya won't be affected.

As so many people are looking for ways to help the people of Ukraine, these businesses and their customers hope raising a glass will make a difference, however big or small.

"It’s very difficult times, but we need everyone to pray for Ukraine. Stand with Ukraine. We need more people to understand what is happening, the aggression with Russia against Ukraine, and stand tall," said Brudno.

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