La Berezka: Epicerie Russe in the heart of Geneva
In 2016 Denis decided to open a store selling original Russian food in the center of Geneva. The reason for doing this was obvious. Having Russian roots and being in love with the local cuisine, he came to settle in Geneva in 1994, and since then he had been missing the option of serving authentic Russian meals at his own table.
He told SUISSEPIC that nowadays there are around 10,000 Russians and Russian-speakers who are permanent residents of Geneva – around 100 times the number who lived there in 1994.
“All these people want the same things that I wanted – for example, having Baklazhany (Aubergine paste) as a salad or an aperitif snack”, Denis said.
Russian food in the heart of Geneva
With its extremely authentic Russian name, La Berezka is located at Rue de la Terrassiere in Eaux-Vives, the heart of Geneva. It offers a large variety of products: dozens of marinated vegetables, candies, milk, kefir cottage cheese, etc. Even a famous dark-brown bread called Borodinskiy and a lovely traditional “Kievsky” cake can be found here.
Denis is a real entrepreneur, regularly monitoring suppliers’ new offers and establishing relationships with the local community in order to diversify the range of products – for example, every day he receives fresh home-made Russian salads, including the famous Olivier salad, and pirozhki (small pies with very traditional fillings, like cabbage or eggs).
“I try to arrange my shop like a small supermarket, where you can buy a lot of different products. I was inspired by Moscow’s food malls, where you can buy everything in one place: tvorog, kefir & ryazhenka, frozen goods like pelmeni, vegetables, red & black caviar… I have all that too, and I also have a wide variety of Russian alcohol, porridges, sweets and chocolate”. Denis, Owner of La Berezka.
When I asked about his favorite food, he smiled, and after thinking for a while, answered:“A Russian variant of Uzbek Plov, bliny (crepes) with sour cream and caviar are among my personal besties”.
Not only food, but Russian traditions
Yes, yes, food makes us feel happy. But here at La Berezka you don’t only find food. Denis offers traditional souvenirs like matryoshkas (Russian dolls), shawls, and crockery with traditional ornaments. All these can be seen from the street through the store’s window. Bright colors attract visitors, both Russian and Swiss.
“When Swiss people come to La Berezka, I always tell them about our country, our traditions and our culture. They look fascinated and buy something. The fact that they want to discover something about Russia makes me feel happy.” (smiling)
Looking at the shelves I noticed one special detail: all the prices were written in Cyrillic but with Latin letters. Of course I asked about this idea.
“When I did that, I was thinking that it was just a funny idea, but now I would say that it has become a unique feature of La Berezka”.
Looking at this young man, I was admiring the sparks of creativity in his eyes and his pure love of being a business owner. Now he is excited about the idea of further development. Just before Christmas and New Year he received a large shipment of black caviar. This exclusive product, known as one of the hallmarks of Russian chic, is going to be sold through distributors in Switzerland.
Good luck, Denis, you are going to win!
Address: Rue de la Terrassière 48, 1207 Genève
Telephone: +41 22 810 84 63