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A traditional Czech village pub that turns off faucets as costs soar

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Jason Hovet and Michael Kahn

SEC — Czechs have long gathered in village pubs to catch up with friends and celebrate special occasions in a country famous for beer culture. But soaring costs and belt tightening by patrons are now making many drinking fountains fight for survival.

Like other pubs across the country, U Kryslu in Sec village, with a population of 318, suffers from a plunge in income as customers cut their leisure spending. This is the latest blow to a facility that is struggling to recover from a pandemic blockade. ..

"Pubs will no longer exist in many villages, and perhaps in ours," said Mayor Helena Chytra, who is looking for a new operator for UKryslu on a recent visit. Told. Only one customer was sipping beer while the bartender was checking the phone.

"On the weekend five or ten years ago, the pub was full. There was no place to sit on Friday or Saturday nights," she said.

Czechs are increasingly turning to drinking at home, despite knocking back 129 liters of beer per person per year, which is sweeping the world. This trend continues even after the pandemic has receded and previous smoking cessation has hurt the pub business.

According to Asahi's Plzensky Prasdroy, the famous Pilsner Urquell brewery, about 12% of Czech town pubs with a population of less than 5,000 have been closed in the last three years. .. This is almost twice as high as in big cities. Soaring costs may prove the secret of death to more people, according to market analysts.

"The economics of one pub in one village doesn't make much sense," said Lubos Kastner, restaurant owner and member of the Czech Institute of Gastronomy. .. He added that as the economy deteriorates, local businesses will be hit harder.

Traditional Czech pubs have provided a central place for people to interact outside their homes for generations, especially in villages.


Currently, even if Czech inflation reaches high levels of nearly 30 years, many small pub owners lose a declining number of customers. I hate taking over the price increase for fear of that. It will reach 16% in May, with electricity and other costs skyrocketing.

"In the fall ... the strangulation (of many small pubs) will begin," said Hanus Vala, owner of the NaPalube Steakhouse in Milevsko, Bohemia, a country in Central Europe.

For relief, some owners provide consulting and financial assistance to local owners who are worried about the blockade of the new coronavirus and the economic downturn. Turned to Plzensky Prazdroj and its "village" program. summer. Eva Vejvancicka, owner of the UKantu pub in Myslovice, purchased in 2019 to prevent closure and then received funding from Plzensky Prazdroj to upgrade the terrace, saving the only venue for the event in a village of 131 people. Said.

"Pubs are important for people to meet. There aren't even shops here. Pubs have always been here," she told Reuters this week with a group of her friends outside the cradle beer. He said he was sitting.

Plzensky Prazdroj started its program in 80 pubs in 2017 and now supports nearly 900 pubs in Czech villages, which is about 10%. This assistance includes direct financial grants as well as consulting on improving the appearance of menus and pubs.

The program targets businesses in villages with less than 5,000 people, and pubs are often one of the few places where locals can interact, Pilsner spokeswoman Petra Kubois said. Says.

"Every village has a three-legged stool, a church, a soccer field, and a pub to help support the community. Without one, the village has no legs for flights." (Written by Michael Kahn, edited by Mark Heinrick)