Last call for U Rotundy? Fans launch petition to save iconic Prague pub from closure

The current tenant didn’t keep up on a payment plan for back rent in the city-owned building.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 17.06.2021 12:35:00 (updated on 17.06.2021) Reading time: 3 minutes

One of the last old-school pubs in Prague’s Old Town is in danger of closing. The operators of Hostinec U Rotundy owe several years of back rent to the Prague 1 district, which partly owns the building. The district is reluctant to shutter the iconic pub, and is turning to the public for help in finding a solution. Supporters of the pub have also started a petition and voiced support on social media.

The Prague 1 City Council announced in a press release that they approved a proposal to terminate the contract with the current operator of U Rotundy. The operator owes the city district long-term rent, which in 2018 already amounted to CZK 832,000. A repayment schedule was approved in December 2019. However, the tenant did not repay it, and at the end of May 2021, the rent debt also increased by another CZK 100,000.

The pub is located on Karoliny Světlé Street, close to the Romanesque-era Rotunda of the Finding of the Holy Cross, which gives the pub its name. It is also not far from the National Theatre.

“We do not want this classic pub to disappear, but on the other hand we have legal obligations in the administration of property, and we cannot tolerate such a high debt,” Prague 1 Mayor Petr Hejma.

At the same time, Hejma emphasized that Prague 1 does not want the well-known pub to disappear. “I urge all those who want to keep the U Rotundy pub to contact me. I believe that we will solve the matter together. Another legend could inspire us – the U Černého vola inn. Even in the case of ‘the Rotunda.’ people living in the area and regulars could help,” Hejma, said.

He also did not rule out negotiations with the current tenant if he paid his debt. But the reference to U Černého vola perhaps means that letting a local civic group run the pub in its current form is on the table.

U Černého vola is an old-school pub located near Prague Castle. The pub has managed to retain the same look since the 1960s. In the 1990s during the privatization era, a neighborhood association managed to take the pub over and run it in its existing form, rather than let it be privatized and turned into an expensive tourist trap. The décor and minimalist menu have changed very little, and usually only there is only standing room unless you are a regular.

Many local people have been going to U Rotundy for decades, and they say there is no other affordable place in the area. It is also popular with students, but it also gathers together a broad range of society, as even some executives like the nostalgic charm of the venue.

Restaurant operator Zbyněk Svoboda told news server Deník N that he was unaware of the pub’s debts when he bought the business a decade ago. By the time he found out, it was too late to back out of the deal. Financial problems have been ongoing since then.

Local people have created a petition asking Prague 1 to cancel the termination of the lease. “The U Rotundy inn, a pub characterized by an unmistakable neighborhood environment, has significant cultural value. It is accessible and open to all, regardless of faith or social stratification. The abolition of the inn and the possible replacement with a concept that is unaffordable for all would mean a significant intervention, especially in social life,” the petition states.

There is even international support to save the pub, as it is highly rated for its local flavor by many pub- and travel-related websites.

People involved in the local culinary scene, from chefs to bloggers, are also asking people to take a moment to sign the petition.

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