Going strong after 27 years, Russian Tea Time reinvents itself

Chicago Scene

The story behind Russian Tea Time Restaurant is unconventional and in many ways, unique. Russian Tea Time opened its doors to customers in September of 1993.

Owner and Chef, Klara Muchnik, was born and raised in Ukraine. In 1967, Klara moved to Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and began her career as a surgical nurse. However, since Klara was a young girl, she had a passion for cooking and baking. She would collect old family recipes and began creating her own in the kitchen. In order to make extra money during harsh economic conditions of the former Soviet Union, Klara pursued her creative talents and began catering weddings, birthdays, and private parties in Tashkent. Her popularity grew overnight, as her delicious, innovative, and honest approach to her craft, made her business grow. While Klara’s cooking was well known throughout Tashkent, she and her family wanted to leave Uzbekistan in search of a better life.

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In 1990, Klara and her family immigrated to the U.S. and settled in Chicago. The Muchnik’s were determined to build a new home in the U.S. Klara dreamt of opening a restaurant that combined her Russian roots with the rich culinary flavors of the former Soviet Republics, which heavily influenced her fare.

This dream began the inception of Russian Tea Time, as Klara’s son, Vadim, helped transform her vision into a reality, by applying his savvy business and interpersonal skills. Thanks to Vadim’s networking and hard work, the restaurant had already gained popularity across Chicago through word-of-mouth, prior to the grand opening. The mother and son team created a collaborative partnership, which turned into Russian Tea Time.

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