8 Dec 2011

Save the Black Ox!

U Černého Vola, an institution in the Prague beer scene and one of the finest dives in the city, if not the world, might soon cease to exist.

Unfortunately, this isn't due to the place doing bad or because some bureaucrat so decided. Quite the opposite, actually. The authorities of Prague 1 have said that they would like Vola to stay as it is, but their hands are tied by the law. Prague 1 is the building's landlord and someone has offered to rent the premises for 400,000CZK a year, which is more than the current tenants can afford, and the must accept the highest bid.

Currently, U Černého Vola is run by a non-for profit organisation that donates all revenues to a school for handicapped children. The wannabe tenants are Plzeňský Restaurant, who, if I'm not wrong, have several restaurants in Prague and around.

I'm not going to go all Occupy Wall Street on you here. I believe in Capitalism (the real one, not the travesty governments have allowed bankers and speculators to spawn) so I've got nothing against someone who wants to make money, or even become filthy rich, provided they do it honestly and fairly, and I don't have any reason to believe the people of Plzeňský Restaurant are crooks.

But I'm still quite made at this. These people want to replace a classic, unique hospoda with a lot of history, the only one in Hradčany, I believe, where locals can go for a pint without feeling like foreigners in their own town, for a Gastro Pub that'll be designed to the very last detail by the computer of an Architect and a team of Marketing Consultants. Of course, instead of a grumpy geezer that brings beer and haminex or nakladaný romadůr, tourists perhaps will be greeeted by a young, Mcfriendly waiter who can bring them a latte macchiato, a mojito or a Caesar Salad, while the use the free wi-fi to upload photos to their Facebook accounts using their smartphones.

But you know what? Fuck the Mcfriendly waiters! Fuck latte macchiato, mojito and Caesar Salad! Fuck free Wi-fi! And fuck smartphones, too, why not! I don't give a flying fuck about what some sensitive, modern, family friendly souls say, the historical centre of Prague doesn't need any more preprocessed places desinged to please a younger crowd.

A petition has been started on the internet to tray to save U Černého Vola. If you are someone who appreciate real pub culture, with all its warts and wrinkles, go to this page and sign it. It might not change much in the end, but at least it made me feel a little better.

However, there's a gleam of hope. According to what I read on Tuesday, the rent that this non-for-profit organisation is currently paying plus the money the send to that school for handicapped children is more than what Plzeňský Restaurant has offered. Let's hope that someone in the Prague 1 Town Hall can find a loophole in the law that, for a change, will benefit a majority and not just a few chosen ones.

Na Zdraví!

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8 comments:

  1. Signed. I've been to U Černého vola a few times and loved it. That said, stopping yet another "Pilsner Urquell Original Restaurant" (ghastly places, only marginally more acceptable than "Husa" by dint of selling better beer) is, in my opinion, a worthy cause in itself

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  2. My girlfriend's mom is a judge in Prague 1!! She loves U Cerneho Vola and spent her student years in that pub. If this is on her table, which I hope it is then no damn Pilsner Urquell will take over the ox!
    According to the notes in the petition (from what I understand, my czech is not perfect) Praha 1 decided to give the rent the establishment to Mr Benda, which was what the previous owner wanted.

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  3. I too have signed the petition.
    I love this place took my nephew and his mate there last year so they could experience this unique place grumpy waiter and all.

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  4. Anonymus. You are right, I don't know who this Benda is, but if he's got the support of the current owners of the pub, he's got mine, too...

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  5. Håkan Engström8 December 2011 17:20

    I have signed, and I've urged all my pivo-loving friends to do the same.
    I discovered Vola back in 1992, and have spent hundreds of hours there over the years. I am Swedish, but I return to the Czech Republic at least twice a year. There have been many disappointments — so many of my favourite hospodas have been ruined, closed down, changed beyond recognition, even turned into McDonalds (Cernohorská in Brno), but Vola has never turned me down. The "gruffy" staff are really sweethearts. You just need to get used to them, and they to you.

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  6. http://www.facebook.com/prag.blues

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  7. The pub donates all revenues to a school for handicapped children, does it?
    Is this true, or is someone pulling your leg?

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  8. I kid you not, my friend. It's true (though I'm not 100% sure about the ALL thing, but they do send quite a nice bunch of money to that school).

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