Fine dining at a railway pub? A new eatery in Prague's Masaryk Station recalls an era of train-travel chic

Restaurace Masaryčka, designed to evoke First Republic luxury, will open at the end of August in the renovated rail station.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 24.08.2021 12:59:00 (updated on 24.08.2021) Reading time: 3 minutes

Railway stations are not usually associated with fine dining, but a new restaurant opening in Prague’s Masarykovo nádraží aims to challenge that concept. Restaurace Masaryčka, which opens at the end of August, will evoke the mood of Czechoslovakia’s First Republic, when train travel was still chic.

“An imperial first-class restaurant has been operating on this site since 1869. The restaurant remained here until the 1990s, but its quality gradually declined. Subsequently, a casino was built here,” Jan Vodvářka from developer Penta told daily Pražský deník.

Vodvářka has been in charge of the project to renovate Masarykovo nádraží since 2016. The renovation is part of a larger development by Penta to create a new neighborhood next to the station.

The restaurant will be able to accommodate 200 guests. Renowned chef Marek Hosnedl will oversee the kitchen. He cooked at Café Sahara on náměstí Míru, a favorite spot of celebrities and politicians, and then headed the culinary team for a fleet of river boats in Europe. “I want to combine healthy cuisine with tradition," he said.

“No one has ever said that you can't eat well in a train station restaurant. It's a mindset that I would like to change, and convince people that you will find yourself well-treated in the station restaurant,” Hosnedl told news server

He declined to reveal too much about the menu but did say it would include “žemlovka,” a traditional type of bread pudding with fruit.

Interior detail at Restaurace Masaryčka. (Photo: Facebook)
Interior detail at Restaurace Masaryčka. (Photo: Facebook)

The new look of the restaurant will actually be very close to its old look, before it fell into disrepair. Conservationists were involved, as the building is protected cultural heritage. Iron columns and the textured ceiling were preserved.

The amount of money that went into the restoration of the space, and the final result, encouraged the investors to find an upscale client.

“The entire reconstruction of the restaurant cost CZK 70 million. It took us quite a long time to find a suitable tenant who would share the investment with us," Vodvářka adds.

The tenant, which will share the costs with Penta, is Paris-based Lagardere Group. While it is primarily a publishing house, it also has divisions involved in travel retail and food.

Sign over the entry of Restaurace Masaryčka. (Photo: Facebook)
Sign over the entry of Restaurace Masaryčka. (Photo: Facebook)

Some 35,000 people pass through the station every day, which creates a large potential audience. The restaurant operators also hope to attract people who are not traveling, but simply in the downtown area for sightseeing or entertainment. In the future, it should also attract residents of the new neighborhood near the station.

During the renovation, traces of the venue’s recent past as a casino were found in the walls, in the form of used syringes and lost ID cards. The new venue will hopefully help to make this sort of image of the station something that belongs to the past.

The renovation of Masarykovo nádraží (Masaryk Station) began in 2012 with a total reconstruction of the roof of the arrival hall. After the opening of the restaurant, the next phase of renovation will be the corridor in the historic building along Hybernská Street. It should have a shopping arcade by the end of next year. The renovation is in phases so the operation of the station won’t be hindered.

The new district near the station will have the same name as the restaurant: Masaryčka. The district will include buildings designed by the late British-Iranian architect Zaha Hadid. Some of the project, though, is being redesigned so that it includes more housing and fewer offices.

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