Prague tram converted into bistro near historic Strahov Stadium
What could be more Czech than drinking beer on an old tram? At Prague’s Bistro Točna, owner Jan Řídký and his business partner have turned a historical tram stop into a thriving business frequented by locals and tourists alike. I spoke with him about how he and his partner got the idea for the business, and how he hopes the space becomes a hub for culture in the city.
“I established this bistro with a friend of mine, but it’s really not my background. I work at a bank in risk management and my friend works in a marketing agency. One day we had this crazy idea to get into the gastro business, and the rest is history.”
Having the idea to get into the gastro business is one thing, but how did the idea turn into a gastro business in a tram?
“The initial idea wasn’t to get into the gastro business – because that’s the best advice – never get into this business! But we actually found this place first, and that’s how we got the idea for the business. During Covid when everything was closed, we were observing our neighbourhood a lot since we weren’t able to travel. I was walking around Prague a lot and discovered many places I had never seen before. One day I bought a beer and came to sit at this place, and thought ‘wow this is a really beautiful place, there should be something here’, and that’s how everything started.”
How did you manage to get the tram here?
“It was a long process. Once I showed my friend this place, he agreed that it was a cool spot and that we should go for it. Afterwards, we started calling politicians and doing presentations, thinking about how the place should look, and discussing with companies and the public transport company. Then we had an idea that we should have a bistro in a tram, since the bar is on a tram loop. Originally, everyone said ‘no way’, that it wouldn’t be possible. But after a year of attempts, one politician wanted to keep this place, and he had to find a new function for the location or else it would have been torn down. The City of Prague opened a tender for how to use the space, and we won it, and now it’s been one year since we opened.”
So what was this place before?
“On the hill there is a huge stadium, Strahov Stadium, and there was this movement called Sokol, and there were a lot of people practising. The stadium has a capacity of 250,000, and people got there by public transport. There are two loops here and the trams brought people here to go up to the stadium. Now the stadium is only used for trainings of the Sparta Praha club, and the place was quite abandoned other than that, even though it’s very close to the Prague castle.”
So you saw this as a chance to give the space a second life?
“Our intention was to open not only a bar here, but also to have events. Sometimes musicians ask if they can come and play here, so that’s my offer to all musicians who are looking for a place to play. If they come and play, we’ll give them beer and food and can promote them on our Instagram. That was our purpose, to make this place really living with culture. Anyone who wants to make an exhibition here can call us and we can make it happen.”
What’s the reception been like from customers, do you get a lot of tourists?
“The cool thing is that the tram is still running around here, and the historical tram 42 runs by here, and we are very close to the Prague Castle, so tourists are probably one third of our customers.”
And the rest of the customers are mainly locals who live in the area? Has it become a local watering hole for the neighbourhood?
“I think the place is so amazing that you can really hang out here, and it was a surprise for me that at the beginning the majority of our customers were mothers with children. Children love the tram, it’s a huge toy for them, and they can spend their hours playing while their parents drink beer. It’s funny because now the kids are always telling their parents that they don’t want to go home, that they want to stay and play.”
Will the bar be closing soon for the winter season?
“We hope not! Last season we were open until Christmas Eve. We just changed the assortment a little bit, so we have hot wine and hot chocolate and also you can roast sausages on the fire. It’s pretty cool that you can do this in Prague so close to the city centre, so that’s what we’re planning for this year as well.”