Solodko: A Taste of Ukraine in Beantown

Photo: Ilona Znakharchuk
Photo: Ilona Znakharchuk

On bustling Brookes Street, near downtown Boston, where brick buildings withstand the passage of time and host all sorts of shops on their ground floors, one stands out. This is the city’s only Ukrainian pastry shop, Solodko Boston.

Ilona Znakharchuk, with roots in Ukraine, completed her studies in May 2021 at Boston College, graduating with degrees in mathematics and music. Simultaneously, during that period, she started her own small business, Conditer (meaning “pastry chef” in Ukrainian), which was later renamed to “Solodko Boston” (meaning “sweet” in the language).

Znakharchuk began baking when she was a girl. However, the idea of starting her own business came to her when she was a sophomore in college. Her inspiration came from a friend of hers who owned a pastry shop in Ukraine. “In America, it’s not always easy to find sweets that are both aesthetically pleasing and tasty. I want my sweets to be beautiful and offer a wonderful taste experience,” Znakharchuk said. There were no Ukrainian pastry shops in the United States, so she decided to create her own.

Photo: Eveline Levin and Nia Solovei

At the beginning of her career, Znakharchuk devoted her weekends to baking, alongside her studies. Every Friday night she would leave the university dorm and return to her parents’ home, where she had all the necessary equipment for making sweets. “As time passed, my weekends started at 7 a.m. and ended at 1 a.m.It was a process that took up my entire day,” Znakharchuk explained. In her second year at university, she decided to add eclairs to the Conditer menu.

As orders started to increase, Znakharchuk felt unprepared to face the challenges of running a small business. “I hadn’t yet thought about how I would package my sweets and deliver them to my customers,” she said. Soon she realized she needed to learn how to be able to respond to the constantly incoming orders.

After graduation, Znakharchuk worked full-time in finance and part-time in baking. As time went on she realized that working 18-hour days was unsustainable. “December 2021 was the toughest month of my life. I wasn’t ready to choose between pursuing my business or my career in finance,” she admitted. In January 2022, driven by faith and determination, she took a leap of faith. Together with Irina Znakharchuk, her sister, they searched for a property to start their pastry shop. Finding a suitable catering space in post-pandemic Boston was challenging, given the varying local regulations. They finally secured a space on Brookes Street in Brighton, a former pizzeria.

In August, the problems began. She and her sister had to renovate the former pizzeria into a bakery. “I had never built anything from scratch in my life,” said Znakharchuk. Finding specialized staff in Boston within such a short time frame is impossible. In this challenging context, Znakharchuk made a significant decision. She renovated with the help of her sister. “We used similar tools to those we have in pastry making, just on a larger scale. We replaced everything, from the floors to the walls. The only help we sought was from an electrician and a plumber.”

Photo: Inna Kochura

In November 2022, Solodko Boston – with the slogan “where life becomes sweet” – welcomed its first customers. “The inauguration happened very quickly after we did the work that required six to eight months in just three,” Znakharchuk said. During the same period, Irina quit her job to support her sister’s dream. “We worked tirelessly, even at night, to prepare the space, and the local community in Brighton watched us closely and supported us with love,” she added.

At Solodko the menu is now diverse, offering favorite sweets like macarons, eclairs, and their best-selling Medovik cake. The area is a magnet for Ukrainians and Russians seeking tastes from their homeland. Solodko offers a unique combination of Ukrainian-origin sweets, French influences, and American products. “What sets us apart is that we are the only Ukrainian pastry shop in Boston, attracting customers not only for our Ukrainian identity but also for the love they have for our products,” Znakharchuk added.


Theodora Tsevas

I am Theodora Tsevas, a Greek-American writer and photographer with a deep appreciation for Mediterranean culture and more. My work revolves around exploring new destinations, savoring local cuisine, and conveying these experiences through my writing and photography.



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