Czech lunch prices are rising, and fewer people are eating out

The average price of a lunch in a Prague restaurant rose by 15 crowns over the past year, and fewer employees are dining out for a midday meal.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 13.03.2022 09:56:00 (updated on 13.03.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

The cost of eating out for lunch in the Czech Republic has sharply risen over the past year according to data provided by Sodexo, which operates meal vouchers provided to employees and charts trends in their use.

The price increase, combined with lingering effects from the pandemic and a change in Czech law last year, has led to significantly fewer diners eating out for lunch in the first few months of 2022 compared to past years, say restaurateurs.

According to Sodexo, the average price for lunch in a restaurant in Czech Republic was 157 crowns in January 2022, two crowns more than December and 13 crowns higher than January 2021.

In Prague, the average lunch price was 176 crowns, up 15 crowns year-on-year and the most expensive midday meal in the country.

According to Luboš Kastner, a local restaurateur and representative from the Czech Association of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises and Crafts, local restaurants are seeing drastic declines in the number of their visitors, especially at lunchtime.

Monday, March 14 will mark two years since the Czech government first closed restaurants in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Restaurants have been continually impacted by subsequent restrictions, governing the number people that may sit at a table and other measures, but those restrictions have been fully removed as of next week.

Still, the effects of those restrictions are expected to linger through the coming years. During the pandemic, many people started working from home, and restaurants that cater to business centers saw an especially large decline in visitors.

While most businesses in the Czech Republic have resumed full operation, customers have still not returned to restaurants for lunch, says Kastner.

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Many employees still work from home, and others have become used to ordering food through delivery services. Some have switched to an "English" style of lunch, which Kastner describes as a sandwich to-go as opposed to the traditional Czech sit-down meal.

In addition, a change in Czech law that went into effect last year has had a large effect on restaurants. Under the change, local businesses can give their employees cash benefits as opposed to meal vouchers. The change has cost local restaurants billions of crowns in sales, says Kastner.

According to Sodexo CEO Daniel Čapek, the number of people paying for meals in restaurants with vouchers is half of what it was before the pandemic in 2019.

While the Czech Republic has removed nearly all of its Covid-19-related restrictions as of next week, local restaurants are expected to feel the effects for years to come.

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