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Customers typically spend only a short time in restaurants...

The first day of restaurant opening: People need to get used to going out again, so far they're running away

Nela Štefanová
25.May 2020
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3 minutes to read

Many of us were certainly looking forward to the last wave of lifting measures. The changes that took place on Monday concerned wellness centers, saunas, zoos, mass events and, above all, restaurants and bars. After almost two months, life returned to these establishemts. The sad truth, however, is that a lot of gastronomic business will be digging themselves out of the decline in sales for some time to come. We've visited several Prague establishments to find out what the first day of the grand opening was like for them. And the result? If you expected crowds, you'd have been wrong.

I have to admit that it was a nice feeling to go out without a face mask after all this time and take a deep breath. I can also imagine the joy that the owners and managers of restaurants, cafes and bars must have felt when, after more than two months, they could finally open the doors of their establishments. The interiors of restaurants came to life again and it fact remains that at the beginning of this year, it wouldn't have occured to any of us how grateful we would be for being able to sit down at the table of our favorite restaurant and eat a lunch menu with a bunch of friends one day. Several ten thousand establishments across the Czech Republic were preparing for this big day, and decided to find out what their first day was like.

Prodej luxusního domu, Praha - západ - 414 m2
Prodej luxusního domu, Praha - západ - 414 m2, Okolí Prahy

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People need to get back into their habits

When I entered the Jaguška restaurant in Palmovka, shortly after three o'clock in the afternoon, I wasn't expecting to be the only visitor here. Usually this restaurant is packed at this hour.

"The guests came here for the lunch menu, ate it quickly and left again. No one stayed,"

operation manager Jan Veverka informed me. He believes it will take them years to recover from the declines in income. The restaurant U Pošty in Vinohrady was just as empty. What was the first day of reopening like there?

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"I admit it was bad this afternoon, but that was also because it's been raining almost all day. We were, in fact, not any better off today than when we'd been selling only through the window,"

the owner of the restaurant Petr Jiruš told me, adding that they had sold less than thirty lunches. He belives, however, that the situation could improve in the late hours, when regulars come to watch football matches.

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"In the last two months, we've barely been able to function at twenty percent,"

the owner continued. According to him, the operation of the restaurant couldn't have continued without staff reductions in recent weeks.

"In order for our business to survive, we had to maintain the prices of food and drinks, but unfortunately we had to say goodbye to more than half of the staff,"

said Jiruš, who is overwhemled by the fear of the future.

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"We were also very dependent on guests from abroad and there will probably be a shortage of those for a long time to come. Aside of that, I am waiting for the statement on the forgiveness of the lease. In all honesty, I live in great uncertainty. But I believe that people are no longer afraid to go to restaurants, they just need to get back into their habits and get used to their work schedule,"

concluded the owner.

Czech poeple stick together

However, some establishments in Prague have decided not to open until June. An example is Café NoD, which is located in the center of Prague in Dlouhá street. People used to come here in the evening after a theater performance or an exhibition not only for coffee and a drink, but also to enjoy the local culinary specialties.

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"We didn't open on Monday because we had to think about whether it would pay off financially,"

Sára Herrmannová, NoD's operational manager, told us.

"The situation was also influenced by the fact that restaurants can only be open until 11 p.m. We are an establishment that doesn't have an outdoor beer garden and we relied on the fact that many customers would visit us in the later hours,”

the manager concluded.

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Only time will tell how long ndividual establishments will need to recover from their losses. But truth remains that the Czechs can pride themselves in having done everything in their power to save some restaurants. Whether it was a number of initiatives, vouchers or mobile applications, in this respect we have proven that we can stick together.

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