Courtesy of Coffee Room
Courtesy of Haenke
An urban botanical installation designed by the founders of Haenke lab
World-traveling Czech entrepreneurs are filling the capital city with stylish fashion, art, and design spaces.
When someone says a city is evolving at a feverish pace, it’s often an exaggeration. Not so with Prague. Here, it’s like a fertilizer is being spread across the city overnight—you wake up each day to discover another exciting new place has popped up.
Prague’s transformation consists of a welcome stream of smart new shops, cool cafés, and other creative concepts, thanks to a new generation of young Czech entrepreneurs. These well-traveled innovators are bringing back experiences from abroad and adapting them to their home city. Whereas just 10 years ago Prague still felt a bit stuck in the past, these savvy locals are brightening once dark spaces and bringing a refreshed energy to the city through this new breed of urban offerings.
The result? A uniquely Czech experience that puts Prague on par with capital cities around the world.
The young duo, who grew up together and married in 2015, were inspired to start the café while living in London when Mahr starting “working in coffee” and they fell in love with it. After a successful experiment at Coffee Room, they’ve united specialty coffee with homemade doughnuts in their newest venture: the nearby Donut Shop. “We’re very proud of Prague now, what’s happening around,” says Mahr, a former journalist.
“When we opened, there was nothing here,” adds Mahrova. “Maybe we’ve played a part in bringing all the new businesses to the area.”
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“[We’re] coming back to Prague and want to have the same quality of coffee, the variety of services and so on [that we’ve experienced while abroad],” she says of the city’s young entrepreneurs.
For the last three summers, Drdova—along with the area’s other gallerists— has organized the Neighborhood Boogie Woogie: an outdoor art event that presents work in public spaces, cafés, and shops in the neighborhood.
“It’s like a small village in the city,” says Drdova.
Taste of Prague hosts up to five tours per day in the high season with a maximum of 10 people per tour. The traditional Czech food tour focuses on classic cuisine, while the Prague foodie tour showcases modern techniques: Both include long, lingering visits to restaurants, bars, and food venues. “We don’t want to own the place, we want to blend into [it],” says Valenta.
“This is tourism people don’t complain about.”
Taste of Prague authored the city’s first foodie map, fosters pride in the national cuisine, and introduced the capital city to a palatable blend of tourism that doesn’t feel like tourism. According to Valenta, “This is tourism people don’t complain about.”
The venue’s ground floor houses the café/bistro and the design shop, Deelive, which looks out onto the river across the street. The lighting, home accessories, furniture, and fashion for sale are all Czech made.
“I’m very proud of my city,” Rihova says. “Prague really deserves to have a flourishing art and design scene—it’s a very inspiring place to live.”
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The couple has lined up a slew of new offerings. Haenke Lates, late-night shopping events with drinks and music, will take place every first Friday of the month. A series of events will explore plants in the context of architecture, fashion, and other creative fields. Following the success of their first installation, which artfully placed 1,000 plants across the square in front of the National Theatre, the duo plans to host others throughout Prague and beyond.
“The city’s creative soul has really spread its wings during the last few years.”
“The city’s creative soul has really spread its wings during the last few years. It marks a general trend with young people who no longer feel the need to look for a stable job but instead opt for developing their own project based on sustainable values and creative thinking,” says Strelcova. “I also find it quite a chilled environment, a place where generosity, a community spirit, and innovative thinking is appreciated.”
Next: Jonathan Gold in Prague
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