On September 16th, Karlin will once again transform its streets, squares, backyards, and courtyards into vibrant neighborhood gathering spots as part of „Zažít město jinak“ (Different City Experience).
In collaboration with the AutoMat association and local volunteers, thirteen locations will come alive on Saturday, including Čimice, Frýdlantská Street, Hrubého Street, the Atlas Cinema area, Křižíkova Street, Na Pecích Street, Okrouhlík Street, Osinalická Street, Pod Čimickým hájem Street, Studio Alta Street, Urxova Street, and Žižkov Tunnel.
Last year, the event brought together neighbors, local associations, and businesses to promote the use of public space, and attracted nearly more than ten thousand visitors.
The Zažít město jinak festival celebrates neighborly relationships and is made up of activities hosted by residents. Based on the principle of mutual aid, the festival incorporates a shared use of public space, local volunteers, and much more. All ages and interest groups are invited.
The festival aims to break the suburban, pedestrian mold of the city and have people realize the human value in their surroundings. Locals play an active role in the day’s program, which is mainly composed of workshops, games, concerts, sports, theatre performances, locally prepared food, etc.
You’ll meet and learn from many interesting people from your neighborhood, cultivate relationships among different interest groups (e.g. local authorities, businessmen, residents), strengthen local cooperation, and discuss local, relevant causes as well as the benefits of calmer areas.
With three locations across Prague and another in Brno, American-style Waf-Waf restaurants are giving locals a chance to experiment with sweet and savoury breakfasts and lunches, offering a wide range of waffles, pancakes and crêpes.
Speaking to Prague Morning, part-owner Jonáš Basel said the “menu is full of special products that you can’t find anywhere else”.
“Restaurants in Prague only offer these products for dessert,” he said, “something you have after your main meal. We wanted to change that.”
The do-it-yourself menu on offer at Waf-Waf restaurants allows customers to pick and choose from “20 or 30 ingredients that they can mix themselves”.
Waf-Waf also have set menus for breakfast and lunch, including savoury options like their signature Wafchick chicken strip waffle sandwich, which Basel says has become “more and more popular”.
“I think we have really good savoury pancakes and waffles, so I’m not surprised people like them. They’re most popular on weekends for breakfast, but around 65 per cent of people still go for sweet alternatives,” he said.
Asked to pick a favourite item on the Waf-Waf menu, Basel said he “love[s] Waftella”.
“I think it’s our best product. Sweet pancakes with Nutella, strawberries, raspberries, oreo and mascarpone.”
Waf-Waf is popular with a range of customers, Basel said, catering to families with children, birthday parties, students and even businesses.
The company survived the pandemic and has now “been running for just over 5 years.”
“Covid was tough,” he said, “but it brought us new ideas. We now deliver across the whole of Prague using Wolt, Bolt and Dame Jidlo.”
“We celebrated our five-year anniversary in April,” Basel added.
Waf-Waf have restaurants in Letna, I.P Pavlova, Palladium shopping centre and in Brno and Basel is keen to expand the business, looking for people interested in setting up franchises “in Prague or in other cities”.
The Letna and I.P Pavlova restaurants are open Monday to Sunday from 8 am to 9 pm, with Waf-Waf Palladium and the Brno location opening one hour later at 9 am.
The tenth edition of the Signal Festival of digital and creative culture returns to Prague next month, lighting up the city for four days of exhibitions, tech-based displays and performances spread over 14 locations.
The festival – which is the most visited cultural event in the Czech Republic – will take place from October 13th to 16th, featuring work from many artists including world-renowned Turkish new media artist Refik Anadol and Czech designer Maxim Velčovský.
Visitors can visit nine of the 15 exhibitions free of charge, with the remaining displays available with a Signal Plus pass currently available for 240 Kč on the festival’s website. A VIP pass allowing viewers to skip queues at all 15 locations and access food and drink catering is also being sold for 1690 Kč.
Speaking to Prague Morning, Signal Festival director Martin Pošta said the tickets are “very important to support the future of the event”.
“It’s not for profit and it’s very affordable,” he said. “It allows us to keep being creative.”
“We aren’t just promoters of art, we produce it. These works have been created especially for the festival.”
Pošta recommends visitors set aside two nights for the festival as “it’s not possible to do it all in one”. An app with an interactive map of the exhibitions is available free of charge. “Pick a starting point and make your way through,” he said.
The festival has been designed with two routes through the city – one in the centre and one through the up-and-coming Vršovice area in Prague 10, where Signal exhibitions have never been displayed before.
“We’re excited to be exploring a completely new area of the city,” Pošta said.
Included in the city route will be Refik Anadol’s large-format projection, which Pošta described as “Prague data-based art sculpture”.
Analysing large amounts of data provided by the city of Prague, Anadol has produced a “site-specific installation” that will be displayed in the Centre for Planning and Development of the Capital City of Prague (CAMP).
The exhibit will be available with Signal Plus and VIP passes.
Anadol is known for his dream-like work designed using algorithms, artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Another exhibition highlighted by Pošta is Forum Robotum: a “robot safari” designed by engineers from the Czech Technical University in Prague (ČVUT) Faculty of Electrical Engineering, where visitors “will be able to interact with robots in their natural habitat”.
While Martin Charvat didn’t always know he wanted to become a chef, it was probably inevitable. The son of Jan Charvat, who has owned restaurants in Prague for over 25 years, the restaurant business is in Martin’s blood.
Now head chef at Krymská modern European restaurant Ansambl, Martin has stamped his vision on a menu where customers can have what he describes as “casual fine dining for an accessible price”.
Aged 15, Martin began working in the kitchens of his father’s restaurants. “My Dad wanted my sisters and I to get some work ethic,” Martin said, speaking to Prague Morning. “So we were sent to the restaurants to help out.”
But his parents never encouraged him to pursue cooking, often pointing out that “being a chef isn’t a good career, there are long hours, the pay isn’t great, it’s hot and dirty work and you never get to see your friends.”
“I was going to grammar school, so I wasn’t supposed to become a cook”. Martin wasn’t sure what to study. Disappointed not to get into his first-choice physiotherapy course, he ended up spending a few weeks studying agricultural science at the Czech University of Life Sciences in Suchdol.
“I didn’t enjoy the studies,” he said, so when a family friend offered him a job working in a pub in York, England, he took it.
That first kitchen job felt like a “pirate ship” to Martin. Intense, long hours spent working alongside his colleagues “bring you together” he said, “it feels almost like a cult”.
“I got drawn in immediately, I enjoyed the atmosphere and quickly I felt like I couldn’t leave it [cooking] anymore. It just hooks you.”
Soon, Martin said, he became “more interested in nicer cooking and fine dining.”
“I messaged all the fine dining restaurants in the town and one replied and offered me a week-long unpaid internship. I was very lucky because they were looking to expand their team and they offered me a job.”
Martin spent a year at the restaurant, “immersing” himself in cooking and working as part of a team. “That’s when I really got into cooking,” he said. “Small plates, very traditional French food, I loved it.”
Looking to further develop his abilities and resume, Martin then took a two-month unpaid internship in Denmark working at 2-Michelin Star restaurant Noma.
“If you told someone you were moving to Copenhagen to work 15-hour days for free, they’d probably think you were pretty stupid,” he admitted, “but it’s like a craze – lots of young people who love cooking like me go to restaurants like Noma and work for free.”
The experience taught him an attention to detail that is key to the menu he designs at Ansambl. “I am a very easygoing person,” he said, “I’m not that strict in my personal life, but the way I see it if I’m spending 12 to 15 hours in the kitchen, I want to make it count and I want to produce the best product that we can.”
Martin returned to Prague after two and a half months in Copenhagen. “I wanted to stay longer,” he said, “but working for free in Scandanavia gets expensive.” Back home, he began working at Michelin Star restaurant La Degustation where he stayed for two years.
It was there he met Ondřej Kuracina: then sous-chef at La Degustation and now his partner at Ansambl. Martin described Ondřej – a 20-year veteran of the restaurant business – as “a mentor”, who motivates him to “make their restaurant the best it can be”.
“It’s always much easier to work with people that you know, who you can bounce ideas off of,” Martin said, “because if your co-worker is someone that you feel isn’t as skilled or doesn’t care, it’s always harder to push forward.”
One thing that Ansambl has taken from the chefs’ Michelin Star restaurant experience is an appreciation for local and sustainable produce. Martin pointed to the short seasons in Europe – and especially in Scandanavia – where there are only a few months when vegetables grow, as a cultural reason for trying to cook seasonally. “As best we can, we try to use Czech produce and what’s in season as the basis for our menu,” he said.
“It’s quite a modern philosophy and it makes sense. Restaurants in the past tended to be very wasteful. They only used the best cuts of meat, the best parts of vegetables. Our goal is to really showcase the product with as little waste as possible.”
Ansambl are open Tuesday through Saturday from 5 to 10:30 pm as well as for lunch on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Bringing fresh fish to a country renowned for pork and beef, Seafood Prague aims to combine a traditional fish market with a dining experience where you “eat what you see”.
The trendy Vinohradská restaurant was once a simple fish shop, before part-owner Jan Brodecký and his business partner Martin took it over last year and “really developed the concept”.
Renovating the location and creating a “portfolio of products to offer customers”, Seafood Prague now sells a variety of local freshwater Czech and ocean fish, seafood including calamari, octopus and mussels, as well as a selection of natural wines that have been paired with the food on offer.
Speaking to Prague Morning, Brodecký said his desire to open a seafood market and restaurant came from his time spent living abroad. “I fell in love [with seafood] even more when I lived in Australia,” he said. “There they have these products on every corner.”
When he returned to the Czech Republic, he got talking with his business partner while sharing some oysters and decided to try to “create something of my own” in Prague.
“I liked the style of something that is still new for the Czech market,” he said.
“It’s not an easy thing,” he added, “because the Czeck market is a pork market and Czech people are pork people. They still go for a beer with cheese and sausage, so it’s difficult.”
“But I believe the time is coming,” he said. “The market is getting more open, people are getting more open-minded. So I think when this big boom comes, we’ll be ready for it.”
Brodecký’s concept is that “you’re buying with your eyes”. On most days the restaurant’s main offering is “anything on the grill”. Customers choose from a range of fresh fish and seafood “and we prepare it immediately for you.”
“You can sit and have a glass of wine or prosecco, or you can take it with you,” he said. Seafood Prague is also offering delivery of a larger selection of products.
The restaurant has started pre-spicing whole fish as well as octopus for customers who would like to cook seafood at home, but are not sure how.
“We cook it [octopus], we marinate it, so people can just go home and put it on the pan, and it’s done.”
The Vinohrady restaurant is also offering a new special menu on Tuesdays and Thursdays in what Brodecký describes as more of a “fine dining, tapas style”. He recommends customers try the octopus sliders with homemade kimchi, or alternatively the Californian calamari with poached egg and tobiko.
Brodecký also recommends their “magic” fish and chips, which is available every day. The secret is the “gluten-free dough” that he said has been extremely popular.
Seafood Prague is open seven days a week from 9 am to 9 pm and can be contacted through their website or Facebook page.
A larger-than-life figure in Prague’s entertainment sector, Frank Haughton’s three decades in the Czech Republic have gone from success to success, introducing Irish pubs to the capital and becoming a partner in one of the city’s top nightclubs: DUPLEX.
A former banker and stockbroker in Ireland, Haughton first came to Prague in 1992 to help a friend launch what is now Radio Kiss.
“While I was here,” he said, speaking to Prague Morning, “I observed the huge interest in beer and pub life and thought, okay these people already understand the concept of an Irish pub”, and moved ahead with plans for what would become the James Joyce.
Haughton has “always wanted [his pubs] to be authentic”, he said. So much so, that he bought the interior of a Belfast church, which had been bombed in the Northern Ireland Civil Conflict, and shipped it to Prague to create the James Joyce and ensure the place had the right feel.
“We bought the church pews, we bought the floorboards, we bought the front of the organ gallery, which became the front of the bar, and we shipped it all out here,” he said.
To serve authentic food and drink at the pub, Haughton would take 34-hour drives back to Ireland every six weeks, bringing back products he couldn’t find locally.
“I would have up to 800 kilos of Irish bacon, sausages and Irish black and white pudding in the car”, he said. “I was smuggling,” he conceded, “there was no permit to bring meat from Ireland into the Czech Republic.”
“It was challenging. My heartbeat always went up as I would reach the border.”
“But I always made the point of having the real stuff,” he said. “I used to bring Irish cheddar cheese, Irish potato crisps and even Irish chocolate in the beginning. I would bring anything that I thought people might want.”
Originally imagining an Irish pub would attract attention from the large German, beer-loving, community in Prague at the time, Haughton quickly found that it was instead English-speaking foreigners who quickly took to the place.
“People were looking for a place they could speak English,” he said, adding that foreign businessmen became the core of the pub’s visitors.
“James Joyce became known as the place to go if you wanted to start a business. If you went and chatted around, you were likely to meet somebody who would be able to give you some useful information.”
The pub business was also not something Haughton had planned to stay in. “I thought maybe I’ll build this up for two years myself, and then move on to do something else,” he said.
It was the people he met every day working at the pub that convinced him to stay, though. “In all of my banking life,” he said, “I was mainly dealing with customers over the telephone, so I really enjoyed the people I met face to face.”
“It gave me great satisfaction to see people having a good time and to see a good atmosphere in the pub. I found that gave me real gratification, real satisfaction.”
Since those early days, Haughton went on to own six Irish pubs in Prague, before he sold them all to a group of buyers in 2015.
After a period of brief retirement, though, he said he “started to feel itchy” without businesses to run. “I just couldn’t sit at home so I was going out during the day and pretending I was busy.”
“But I knew I was lying to my wife and myself,” he joked.
Haughton decided to reenter the Irish pub fray, opening McCarthy’s with Conchur de Barra in 2017 before deciding to go in with de Barra and Sean Curran to buy DUPLEX, the exclusive Wenceslas Square location, which was recently ranked among the top 100 nightclubs worldwide by DJ Mag.
Calling it “the best atmospheric club in Prague,” he said that “it’s gone from strength to strength,” adding: “It still excites us, it still provides a huge challenge.”
“There are very few clubs worldwide that have the rooftop view that we have. Music is one factor and ambience is another, but everything [at Duplex] combines to people having a great time,” he said.
At 75, Haughton is no longer “a nightlife person”, he said, meaning the day-to-day running of the club is performed by the younger de Barra and Curran as well as by “our fantastic general manager Peter Fisher and his team”.
Haughton’s latest venture is a Staré Město Mexican bar called Tek’ila Tek’ila. “A Mexican Latino bar has certain parallels with an Irish bar,” he said. “It’s all about fun. It’s all about communication. It’s all about the staff.”
“We don’t really want to be a restaurant,” he added. “We want to have very good food, but we want the fun factor, the dance, the music, the Latino vibe,” to be maintained.
“We want to keep a certain authenticity on the Mexican side. We want people to come here on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night and eat, have a good time, and then go downstairs and dance.”
Cocktails are one of Tek’ila Tek’ila’s specialities. “I’m not a cocktail person normally,” he said, “but every time I come here, I have a classic Margarita and it is fantastic.”
“Our classic South American cocktails are really, really good,” he added.
Haughton does not rule out opening more Mexican bars in Prague. “Never say never,” he said. “The first two months here have been very encouraging, we like the vibe that’s been created.”
“Maybe there’s room for Tek’ila Tek’ila two or three or four, maybe not. We’ll see,” he said.