Russian Tea House
Russian comfort food.
Chocolate Poppyseed Rolls
Established in 1979.
Russian cuisine was entirely absent from the Twin Cities food scene back in 1979. Nikolai and Linda Alenov were inspired to launch their business because of the demand for piroshki that they regularly witnessed at their Russian church's bake sales.
Alenov recalls that, "they (the church) would have bake sales and food sales and they would make piroshkies and people would flock to buy them and they would sell out every time." His mother, one of the main cooks, taught him to make piroshki at home. With the support of Alenov's father, who purchased the home that was eventually converted into the Russian carryout, and recipes from his mother, the family spent a few years remodeling part of the home's lower level, transforming it into a restaurant. "The first day we were open we had a line of people waiting to get in. All of the business people came running, saying, 'Wow, ' you know, 'something different here on University.' This was some 30, almost 34 years ago."
Meet the Business Owner
Much of Nicolai Alenov's outlook is shaped by his early life and the life experiences of his grandfather and parents. His grandfather spent five years in a Siberian labor camp after Russians, under Communism, took his farm. Meanwhile, his father, "roamed around and was homeless for a time." Nikolai was born and spent his first couple of years in Germany.
World War II provided an opportunity for Ukrainians and Russians to leave Russia. England, South America, Brazil, Australia, and the United States sponsored displaced people so that they would not be forced to return to Stalinist Russia, where they risked being killed.
As a young adult in America, Nikolai received a BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design; majoring in sculpture. Eventually meeting his wife Linda, fellow MCAD student.