Survival of Wenceslas Square’s sausage stands assured

Photo: Kristýna Maková

It’s hard to imagine a Wenceslas Square without sausage stands, selling hot dogs, greasy Czech klobasas, and beer. It had seemed such fast-food stalls would be removed, as part of a major project to regenerate Prague’s best known thoroughfare. But in the face of public opposition, the city’s authorities have now backed down.

Wenceslas Square,  photo: Štěpánka Budková
Wenceslas Square is glittering, but looking a bit dusty and aged, in the February sun. The square is about to get a facelift from architect Jakub Cigler to restore it to its former glory. The original plan was to get rid of the noisy traffic and parked cars which line the thoroughfare, and to do away with one of the square’s other most distinctive features – its sausage stands.

There are sausage stands every 50 or so metres along both sides of Wenceslas Square. As well as selling greasy but strangely delicious ‘klobasa’ (a Czech sausage much like German ‘wurst’) their menus offer Czech staples like fried cheese and frankfurters.

Photo: Kristýna Maková
This Monday, it looks like the stands are doing good trade. But not everyone is a fan. In December, Prague City Hall decided to get rid of them, saying that they were a source of litter and attracted homeless people scavenging for leftovers. The council promised to do away with the stands by 2012.

Another complaint? That these stands sold alcohol. City Hall said it had received numerous complaints from businesses lining the square about the food outlets’ clientele and the noise they produced.

Photo: Kristýna Maková
Things were looking bleak for the sausage stand until the general public intervened. Over 9000 people signed a petition which forced Prague Council to backtrack on its decision. Sausage-loving journalist Miloš Čermák wrote a front-page column in one of the country’s biggest newspapers protesting against the plan. Protestors reminded the council that the sausage stands were a historic feature of the square at the time of the First Republic.

So on Wednesday, Prague City Hall relented. Sausage stands will remain on Wenceslas Square after its renovation, but there will be less of them, and they won’t be open 24 hours a day as is currently the case. The outlets will be banned from selling all hard liquor, but beer will still be sold on tap.