Prague’s ‘We Cook for You’ campaign aims to support local restaurants

Local eateries are struggling to survive, and picking up your order helps them keep a bit more in their pocket.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 25.11.2020 16:57 (updated on 26.11.2020)

Prague City Hall aims to support local restaurants with an information campaign asking people to pick up their food and beverage orders, rather than have them delivered.

The campaign 'We Cook for You' (Vaříme za vás) was launched in cooperation with the Association of Hotels and Restaurants (AHR ČR) and the Confederation of Commerce and Tourism (SOČR).

Restaurants have been facing a hard time due to coronavirus restrictions that have shut down seating both indoors and in restaurant gardens. Although, delivery and pickup are still available.

The campaign’s aim is to encourage Praguers to buy food and drinks directly from the eateries to help them stay open. About a third of culinary establishments have already closed and more are expected to do so in the coming months.

The sale of food and drink from take-out windows accounts for only a fraction of the usual revenue for restaurants, but it helps them survive during the current situation. Direct food pickup gives the restaurants additional money, as delivery services charge the restaurants a percent of the menu price as a delivery fee.

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“Prague restaurants undoubtedly deserve the support of the city. Due to current government regulations and a marked decline in tourism, they have become one of the biggest victims. Let’s support our favorite businesses at least by visiting their take-out windows. We can help them bridge this difficult gap so they can offer us the usual service again when the restrictions end,” Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib (Pirates) said in a press release.

Image from the We Cook for You campaign. (image: Praha.EU)
Image from the We Cook for You campaign. (image: Praha.EU)

He initiated the call for the general public to support Prague restaurants. The sector employs thousands of people who can permanently lose their jobs.

People in the culinary industry agree that food pickup helps, since every crown counts these days.

Oko Bistro, a recently opened eatery in Prague’s Vinohrady district, supported the idea. “It’s great that the city is trying to help restaurants. We need all the support we can get right now. The campaign sends a good message. Pickup lets people help local restaurants make more money, and it doesn't cost them any extra,” manager and chef Benny Water said.

Oko currently only offers take away, as the fees charged by a delivery service would make selling a meal unprofitable for them. They already try to make meals affordable for local people.  “If we cut further into our profit on the meal, it simply wouldn’t be worth it,” he added.

Michael Sito, owner of the Globe Bookstore and Cafe, also saw the city’s campaign as a good step but encouraged people to support local eateries any way they could.

“In this most difficult time for our sector, we strongly support the pickup option and the city's push to encourage it, as delivery companies take large commissions that eat up most of the profit margin. But against the current backdrop, we believe it makes sense to keep offering both options for our customers until things get better on the pandemic front,” Sito said.

Mamun Hassan, the proprietor of Curry House in Prague’s Palmovka neighborhood, agreed that delivery services can greatly reduce the profit a restaurant sees. And while he uses the services as a backup, he tries have his staff deliver as it is more cost effective. “I even make deliveries myself,” he said. He also welcomes pickups.

Integral part of the Prague economy

Tomáš Prouza, president of Confederation of Commerce and Tourism and the vice president of the Czech Chamber of Commerce (HK ČR), said he appreciates how the city is trying to help Prague entrepreneurs in the current crisis. “In the summer, the Prague at Home (V Praze jako doma) program helped severely affected tourism, and we are negotiating with the city on other forms of business support in the capital,” he said.

“Helping Prague restaurants is an important part of saving the Prague economy. At the same time, every bit helps — picking up food instead of ordering through a delivery service. Restaurants, cafes and pubs have always been an integral part of life in Prague. And we are doing everything we can to make it successful again after the current crisis. Thanks to all those who help us with this, and thanks to all the owners and employees whose companies are fighting tooth and nail to stay alive,” he added.

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Prague City Hall says it has long been dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs. “At the beginning of the month, Prague also launched the Lunches (Not Only) for Children project (Obědy (nejen) pro děti), which arranges for affordable lunches for children when schools are closed. At the same time, it is also another opportunity for restaurants to earn extra money for the operation. Currently, about 60 restaurants throughout the capital are registered for the project,” Prague Deputy Mayor Petr Hlubuček (United Force for Prague) said.

Critics, though, claim the price of school lunches was set so low that it is difficult to make a profit.

AHR ČR President Václav Stárek said the lunch price at CZK 60 per meal didn’t cover costs and normally at that price they would be subsidized by the state.

But he appreciates the city’s efforts overall. “Prague generates 60 percent of the total tourism in the Czech Republic, and restaurants are one of the basic pillars of this industry. They are an important provider of job opportunities and thus contribute to raising the living standards of the city's residents,” he said.

“Maintaining the hospitality infrastructure as well as accommodation services will be key factors for the return of tourists to our capital. The atmosphere of our pubs and restaurants also plays an important role in the lives of local residents when meeting friends,” he added.