Kyrgyszstan Natives Open “Pancake” Eatery on Via

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Albina Mels and Alena Logvinenko (right) at their eatery on Via de la Paz.

While we waited in line at a local supermarket, a resident asked me, “Have you done a story about the place on Via de la Paz? They have the best blinis.”

I told her no, but promised that Circling the News would stop by, which this editor did on April 3.

The little cafe, located at 857 Via, was preceded by Scarlett’s Cupcakes (which closed in 2014 after four years in business) and then Acai Nation, which shuttered in late 2021. Earlier this year there were rumors about two other stores — one that would serve vegan entries, and a second that promised coffee drinks. Neither store materialized.

Now we have Blin Blin, which serves Eastern European-style pancakes, known as blinis. The store opened last Friday.

Owner Alena Logvinenko was born and raised in Kyrgystan. She said that with help from her brother Igor, who is a professor at Occidental College, the two wanted to invest in a small business. They first found the location, and then came up with the business.

They decided on blinis, which are delicious, thin pancakes, similar to crepes, because “whenever I made them all of my friends loved them,” Logvinenko said. “These are made from my grandmother’s recipe.”

She worked to come up with some American versions, which include chicken and avocado wrapped in a blini and one wrapped in spinach, mushroom and cream cheese. Blin Blin also offers a lox and cream- cheese version.

CTN purchased a selection of these savories, and they all were absolutely delicious.

The daughter of a Russian father and a Ukrainian mother, Logvinenko finished high school in her country and then traveled to San Diego as an exchange student in 2003-2004, where she also graduated from an American high school.

She returned to her country and attended the American University in Central Asia, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and then obtaining her master’s degree in business from the same school.

A single mom who divorced three years ago, Logvinenko has two boys, (ages 10 and 5), who are living with her parents in Kyrgyzstan. “They’re coming to join me once school is out in July,” she said.

Her friend Albina Mels, whom she met during college, has traveled to the U.S. with her to open the business. Mels had lost her job during the economic crisis and was also looking for a new start. Mels and Logvinenko spent the month of March cleansing and redoing the interior of the café, and adding little tables to the exterior.

Blin Blini’s hours for April are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week, because “we want to see what hours and days work and then we will decide if it needs to be adjusted,” Logvinenko said. “We’re open to suggestions about the menu and what people would like.”

Savory blinis include three choices including the center blini, which has cream cheese, mushrooms and spinach.

The store offers breakfast blinis with a choice of ham, egg, cheese, spinach or mushrooms.

For $10, one can have three blinis with two toppings (Nutella, sour cream, jam, syrup, peanut butter, condensed milk or honey). There are “sweet” blinis, which can include banana, strawberry, Nutella or sweet cream cheese ($12). The Savory blinis are $18 for the lox and $15 for the other versions and include a side salad.

There is freshly squeezed lemonade, and in the future, Logvinenko would like to offer Mors – a drink made from squeezed fresh berries, with water.

“The feedback has been good,” Logvinenko said. “We just need more people to know about us.”

As this editor was walking back home, shortly after the interview, a neighbor stopped me and asked, “Have you been to the new place on Via? It’s really good and the woman is so nice.”

 

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1 Response to Kyrgyszstan Natives Open “Pancake” Eatery on Via

  1. Ruth Ann Walker says:

    Congratulations on your new enterprise!
    Wishing you much success!

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