Three office buildings in Prague, each containing a refreshment area on the ground floor. But each works a bit differently. Let’s join us on this unique (yet virtual) food tour around Spojka Karlín, Vision Café and Dave B. restaurant.
1/ Spojka Karlín at Praga Studios
→ Opened: July 2019
→ Location: Prague - Karlín
→ Conpcept: The restaurant was opened by the same management team which manages the popular vegetarian business Etnosvět in Prague. Spojka also offers dishes for meat lovers. It also provides catering in the building for the neighbouring premises of Spojka Events.
All questions were answered by Helena Slavíková, marketing manager at Spojujeme company operating Spojka Karlín restaurant.
The inside of the restaurant is decorated with a lot of plants. Why this “green” way?
To be more specific, we have precisely 356 plants inside. We wanted a modern idea to highlight the concept of the restaurant and it blend into the overall area. It takes us about two hours every week to care for the plants. It is a joy.
What is the most popular food among customers?
Our bestseller is cauliflower gnocchi. Making them posed a big challenge to the whole team. It may sound simple, but to create consistent dough from cauliflower is not that easy. So when we had the first food tasting, there was the danger that cauliflower gnocchi would not be on the menu. And today it is the most popular dish not just for vegetarians.
Do you support the Rekrabička (Rebox) project. How many people take away their lunch in a box to eat it at work?
Reboxes are very popular among guests as they often take food away with them that they do not finish eating or take away a whole portion. We support the Bezobalu (Pack-free) project as you can bring your own box with you and we will gladly pack your food in it.
How does the restaurant’s capacity change?
At lunchtime the restaurant is filled not just with people from Praga Studios, but also other business centres in Karlín. In the evening people come from all over Prague. Just as at the weekend when customers enjoy coming to use for breakfast or brunch.
How would you briefly describe the concept of your restaurant?
The name alone reveals the main idea – food brings people together. It brings together everyone who likes to eat well at one table. Without prejudice and regardless of whether it is a vegan, vegetarian or meat lover.
We also think about health so we want the food on the plate to serve a purpose. All food that we serve, we prepare from scratch using fresh ingredients. We create new flavours from untraditional ingredients and inspire those around us to see that things can be done differently.
Do people also use your restaurant for work?
The restaurant is also a popular venue for business meetings on working days. I think people are slowly growing accustomed to this approach and combine the pleasant with the useful. There’s nothing better than starting the day with a full breakfast. They also often use our premises for their own work on a laptop.
In what way are you connected with the premises of Spojka Events, which began operating at the end of 2019?
The Spojka Events modern events area, just as the Spojka Karlín restaurant, is one of our friendly businesses as part of the Spojujeme (Joint) team. There is a separate catering kitchen with large facilities in the events area. We provide catering for events at Spojka Events from our Spojujeme (Joint) Catering. As well as the restaurant we provide good synergy and the comfort of our services.
2/ Vision Café at Visionary
→ Opened: July 2018
→ Location: Prague - Holešovice
→ Concept: Bistro is part of a network of more than ten Fresh & Tasty company canteens operated by the Zátiší Group. The business motto is: “Cooked slow, served fast".
All questions were answered by Jiří Opekar, Floor Manager at Vision Café.
When are you at your “busiest”?
Our peak time is from 12:05 to 1:30 pm, but changes, for example, depending on the weather. If it is pouring with rain outside, it starts getting busy from 10:55 am. The same can be said when there are popular or seasonal dishes. There is a really large choice.
A great number of foreigners work in the Visionary building. Do their taste preferences differ from those of Czech diners?
Yes, their taste does differ of course, but they are also more curious. So every Café Vision employee must be able to explain the dish in English. I’ll give you an example: A foreigner comes in and orders the traditional svíčkova dish. He is curious about the taste. Given that we can mix the side dishes, he usually chooses grilled vegetables thinking it is “fit and healthy”. Obviously he cannot be persuaded to change his mind, but we try to explain that the typical side dish in the Czech Republic is bread dumplings and grilled vegetables would spoil the taste of the entire dish. It is nice to receive a thank you for the recommendation when the guest leaves.
Does the Vision Café have its own concept tailored to tenants in the building, or do you prepare a single menu for all company restaurants and canteens of the Fresh & Tasty group?
We don’t have single menus. The dishes may overlap with other Fresh & Tasty establishments. Each branch focuses on its own clients who have specific requirements.
In an interview in 2018 we talked about the option of customers being able to order their food online – can they do that now?
We have been thinking about this idea at Fresh & Tasty for a while now. As yet it is not that simple to meet all the conditions that we have for making such a system work. If we cannot meet this to 101%, we either continue to work on the project or we end it. So far we have not been able to meet the 101%.
In the entire Fresh & Tasty division we prepare thousands of lunches every day and we deliver the same number of lunches to schools. Nevertheless, we are not giving up on this idea yet. We are preparing a similar project on a smaller scale only for the Visionary building so that we can achieve our 101% quality.
Which one dish would you say is your signature dish?
It is difficult to choose one dish. Of the Czech dishes it is svíčková. From Asia phat kaphrao beef, then salmon baked on a low heat for a long time in a convection oven covered in teriyaki sauce. A popular vegetarian dish is Israeli shakshuka.
I know that many chefs will probably condemn me for this, but customers ask for traditional fried cheese hand covered in breadcrumbs and served with chips and home-made tartar sauce once in 14 days on a Friday.
3/ Dave B. - Taste Five at Five
→ Opened: December 2017
→ Location: Prague - Smíchov
→ Concept: A unique á la carte company restaurant that combines 5 styles of catering, 5 types of interiors and 5 seating zones. The restaurant in Prague 5 is run by Sodexo which provides company catering and a system of benefits for employees.
All questions were answered by Lenka Křivancová, Communications & Brand Marketing Manager at Sodexo running Dave B. restaurant.
What type of gastronomy do you focus on?
The cuisine draws fully on the mentality of local customers. These are mainly foreign employees of a leading global pharmaceutical company that also puts human health in first place in its own internal regulations. Therefore we offer diverse and quality light, fresh and varied cuisine full of fresh herbs and refreshing flavours: Mediterranean, Asian and Scandinavian with lots of fish, seafood, juicy steaks, as well as tapas or street food. In the afternoon people also buy home-made baguettes and local desserts.
Why are you open only to 4.00 pm? Do you find that after work people go straight home?
Our long-term surveys clearly show that in the late afternoon everyone looks forward to leaving the building and work. They go for a different type of catering in their free time with their friends and families.
What sort of food is the most popular among customers?
Fried chicken escalope and fried cheese.
A lot of foreigners work in the Five building where you are based. Do their taste preferences differ in any way from Czech diners?
The Smíchov branch of the leading global biopharmaceutical company declaring that it employs 70+ nationalities states on its website: “We support prevention and a healthy lifestyle.” And it is for this reason that we must not allow any stereotype in our cuisine. In Dave B. we always change the entire menu once a month to surprise customers with something different and new even from their destinations. The fact that an increasing number of foreigners has been coming to our restaurant in the last two years means that we have chosen the right international cuisine to suit their taste buds.
Do employees also use your premises for work?
The Dave B. – TASTE FIVE restaurant offers 5 designer seating zones as well as trendy dishes so everyone can choose their own. We have exclusive meeting seats at a table with its own LCD screen for a working lunch with business partners or work meetings on higher chairs at a dining counter for lunch with a laptop or a discreet zone in chairs behind screens for a working lunch for two.
By the way, the possibility for using a restaurant for business lunches was one of the basic conditions for building our Dave B. restaurant.