SALT LAKE CITY — About 1,500 Ukrainians call Utah home, and some of them are business owners in the community. But their focus is back home more than ever.
Maxim Morozoff is one of those. He has been making and selling ice cream and gelato in the Beehive State since 2009.
“Pistachio, cookies and cream, cotton candy. When people taste my product, they say, 'Oh, that’s good,' so I kept it 'good-good,' that’s 'Bon-Bon,'" said Morozoff, the owner of Bon-Bon.
Morozoff first came to the United States in 1994 as a student. In 2000, he moved to Salt Lake City.
His parents live in Germany, and while visiting them, he went to gelaterias. He says he was fascinated by the dessert, and knowing that Utahns love ice cream, he wanted to bring that yummy treat here with his own spin.
His business is growing, and he’s secured another big client. His product is slated to hit Harmons shelves next week.
But it’s hard to celebrate right now, distracted by what’s happening in his homeland.
“I try to stay on the phone with them as much as possible, as much as possible, I mean like 20 phone calls a day,” said Morozoff.
He says his heart is aching for Ukraine, and his worries for his loved ones are growing.
“First, you are overwhelmed because you do not know what is going to happen tomorrow, [if] they’re going to be alive even. Both of my grandparents probably turning in the casket right now, seeing one brother kill another brother,” said Morozoff.
He says the Ukrainian government has been supplying arms to locals, including friends of his.
“This is what my friend just called me: He said, 'Max, we are totally armed, and we’re waiting for them to invade Kyiv in a day now,'” said Morozoff.
He also has friends in Russia who have reached out.
“When they call me, the first thing they say [is]: 'We are so ashamed of our country, that we’re doing this to you,'” said Morozoff.
He also says he wants to remind people to be aware of scams on the internet that claim to support Ukrainians right now.