Chicago best friends turn passion for food into American restaurant in lower Žižkov

Jeff Couloute and Phillip Schniedermeier

Best friends Phillip Schniedermeier and Jeff Couloute who together make up the duo behind the American restaurant Philly & Co’s in lower Žižkov have turned their passion for cooking up American and their native Chicago style food into a hub for local Czechs and expats alike. Amelia Mola Schmidt went to check it out.

Photo: Amelia  Mola-Schmidt,  Radio Prague International

Deep dish pizza, Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, and chicken wings – those aren’t exactly foods native to Czechia’s cuisine. But two expats from Chicago have turned traditional American and Chicago style fare into a successful business in lower Žižkov. Philip Schniedermeier and Jeff Couloute opened Philly & Co in the summer of 2020, and together have created a thriving business that welcomes everyone – from expats to local Czechs. The two met when they were teenagers playing basketball together, and moved to Prague originally to teach English, as Jeff explains.

“We met each other when we were 14 playing freshmen basketball, and we’ve been friends ever since. Phil convinced me to come to Prague, and it was probably the best decision I’ve ever made. We were able to start our business in 2020, and Phillip is a great friend, because I probably never would have come out here if it wasn’t for him.”

So far, the community’s reception to the food has been great, as Phillip describes.

“So far it’s been great. Deep dish pizza is a little hit or miss for people because it’s so different from thinner Italian style pizza, but the cheesesteaks and the wings people have loved. And those foods aren’t necessarily unique to Chicago, but we try to do them as best we can. It’s food that is relatively new to the city and the reception has been great.”

Jeff Couloute and Phillip Schniedermeier | Photo: Philly & Co’s

When searching for a location, the duo considered the tourist centre of Prague, but instead opted for the lower key Žižkov, which did not yet have an American restaurant. Being in Prague 3 has allowed them to build a network of return customers, as opposed to tourists passing through town, as Phil explains.

“We have a great community of Czechs and expats that come in, especially young people. The reason we like this area a lot is because we’ve been able to build a community that lives here, as opposed to being in the city centre. Even though there are a lot of tourists downtown, it’s people who are coming and going, as opposed to Žižkov – where people actually live.”

When it comes to the most rewarding part of the process of owning and operating Philly & Co’s, Jeff explains his favourite aspect.

“It’s the people for me. When you cook something and someone says ‘wow, this is amazing’, it’s the appreciation they have that really puts a smile on my face.”

Photo: Philly & Co’s

Phillip has similar thoughts.

“It’s the friends we’ve met in the process. We’ve been able to make a lot of friends and acquaintances through being here, and I just could not be happier with the community we’ve developed here. People are making friends with each other from different countries: expats and local Czechs as well, so that’s what I’m most proud of.”

Whether you’re an expat craving some American food, or a Czech looking to try a new cuisine, you’re guaranteed to be greeted by friendly faces at Philly & Co’s, and enjoy the warm familial atmosphere and delicious eats.