The many lives of U dvou Koček
U dvou Koček, At the two Cats, is bang in the middle of Prague’s Old Town not far from Wenceslas Square. That’s been a boon in some senses but also a problem as the traditional brewery and restaurant try to juggle keeping locals and thirsty and hungry tourists with many Czechs moving out of the centre and into the suburbs. Manager Roman Pohanka explained some of the history of the that has been put together of the pub although many gaps in the chronology still remain.
The pub appears have been established on some already alcoholic foundations and later came to be owned by the central Prague 1 district council. An interesting example of municipal entrepreneurship.
At its inception as a pub, U dvou Koček probably did not stand out much from its rivals as central Prague pub for local, or Štamgast to use the Czech phrase derived from German. But the city has changed and the locals in the city centre now have a much more transient character.
"There was a period when we did not stand out that much but were the same as the rest. But due to the economic situation and the increase in rents it came about that a lot of traditional pubs disappeared and there are now a lot fewer of them and many had to change. The centre of Prague is no longer inhabited by local people because they have moved out. There are a lot of firms and businesses here and the traditional pub which was full of regulars has often gone. Today there are around 70 percent of Czechs at midday having a meal but that percent is turned around in the evening when foreigners seek out traditional restaurants for something to eat."
"Around seven years ago we widened our offer of traditional Pilsner beer by creating our own mini brewery. We created the mini brewery and produce lager and dark beer. We use the At Two Cats label with a light and dark cat. That differentiates us a bit. We are still selling the traditional Pilsen beer as well. Together with one or two other pubs we therefore have beer from one of the big brewers and our own domestic production.ʺ
At the time, the pub was one of the pioneers in the Czech micro brewer new wave.
There’s another reason for visiting the pub which will resound with Czechs but likely be lost on those from further afield. The pub was the backdrop for some scenes from the 1981 hit Czech comedy Vrchní prchni [Run Waiter, Run] which recounts how a father tries to get rich quick by pretending to be the head waiter collecting cash from customers. The pub prides itself as having hardly changed since those days.