But Friday night, that was not enough. A rocket exploded around 8 p.m. in the middle of the huge Peace Square, Kramatorsk’s main square where the town hall, the cultural center are located… and the restaurant where he works, one of the few to still be open in this city in eastern Ukraine within range of Russian fire.

The employees of the “Woka”, an establishment with red lacquered walls and Asian motifs, dove into the shelter of the restaurant. Going up about twenty minutes later, they saw the damage – all the windows and doors broken despite their protection of plywood panels. They swept, and finished preparing the orders to be delivered.

The strike caused no casualties, the huge square being then deserted, but the explosion blew the windows of several buildings.

“It was a huge noise. We don’t expect it, of course. I was scared,” confesses the young cook with his arms covered in tattoos. Coming back to work the next day was not necessarily easy, but, he smiles, “you may know the proverb: war is war, but dinner must be served on time”.

Aged 23, Igor has worked for several years in this restaurant, which today delights soldiers returning from the front or stationed in Kramatorsk, the administrative center of the Donetsk region, which the Russians want to seize.

This city of some 150,000 inhabitants before the war, about twenty km from the front, remains under the constant threat of bombing. A strike on July 7 on a hotel killed one person at the end of last week. And Kramatorsk suffered a tragedy in April when the train station, where civilians were thronging to flee, was hit by a missile, killing at least 52 people.

As of Saturday, everything has been cleaned, the wooden protections have been reinstalled, and the orders are piling up on the counter in front of the glass behind which Igor arranges, coats and cuts his sushi. Sometimes up to a hundred a day. The restaurant, opened in 2016, still employs 7 people (compared to 28 before the war) and has never closed since February 24, the date of the start of the Russian invasion.

“It’s normal to work, even in this context”, says Igor, who after a cooking diploma went to try his luck in kyiv, then on the coast of the Sea of ​​Azov, before returning to Kramatorsk, his city. of origin.

Has he ever considered joining the army? Small smile. “Why should I? I have no experience, I would have no use. Here, I help in a certain way”, estimates the young man, who dreams of one day opening his own business.

For the moment, food is not lacking.

The establishment serves between 10 and 30 dishes daily, to take away or delivered. But no customers there. “If ever a missile fell on the restaurant? It’s a big responsibility for us,” explained the boss, Dmitry Pleskanov, a few hours before the rocket fell on Peace Square.