Founded in the 1970s by Michael Hrynenko (1954-2004), the site was the former location of Louis Auster's Candy Shop, who was one of the original creators of the Egg Cream.
Kiev for most of its existence was open for business 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It was located at 117 Second Avenue, on the southwest corner of the intersection of Second Avenue and Seventh Street. At one time, the area was known as the "Pierogi Belt" because of the large number of Ukrainian restaurants; by 2007, only a few remained, such as Veselka. Kiev was popular for Ukrainians who attended St. George's Church down the street, who would go out for brunch after service at Kiev. In its original form, Kiev was closed in 2000 by its owner. It then went through several abortive remodelings and reopenings, closing for good in 2006.
The cuisine was largely Eastern European, including pierogi, challah, matzah brei, kasha varnishkis (Kasha over bow-tie pasta), blintzes, fruit compote and so on, though typically American items such as french fries were also available.
The restaurant was a local cultural institution, famed not only for its cuisine and perpetual availability but also for the eclectic and colorful variety of patrons. It is mentioned in the song "Detachable Penis" by the band King Missile. Poets Allen Ginsberg and Ted Berrigan included the Kiev in poems. The restaurant had many other notable regulars during its tenure.
- Egg Cream History accessed April 4, 2015
- Denny Lee, "East Village; Like the U.S.S.R., a Longtime Ukrainian Diner Is Defunct," Neighborhood Report, New York Times October 29, 2000.
- Mimi Sheraton, "Restaurants; South Italian fare in the old tradition,", Dining & Wine, New York Times, March 12, 1982: "Thickly sliced homemade challah is the base for the hefty and delicious French toast served at the Kiev Restaurant, a lively and colorful luncheonette"
- "Like a Phoenix, Rising From the Ukraine", an account of the 2001 reopening
- "Blinking at the Kiev" , an account from the final incarnation of the restaurant, written in early 2005
- RIP: Leshko's and Kiev, an article about the loss of Slavic flavor after renovation.
- The Kiev: Makes Me Wanna Challah A recounting of changes to the restaurant, and its food.