A new bistro has opened in City Hall on Mariánské náměstí in Prague 1, serving both municipal workers and building visitors. The eatery, called Bistro Mezi řádky (Between the Rows) will be staffed by people with disabilities.
The new operator, social enterprise group Etincelle, which won the EY Social Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2018, is bringing a brand new concept and many positive changes to the newly renovated space.
The September 3 opening was attended by Mayor Zdeněk Hřib (Pirates), Praha sobě leader Jan Čižinský, writer Bára Nesvadbová, who has been working with Etincelle from the very beginning, and photographer Jan Saudek.
“In the New City Hall we are reopening the bistro, which will be available to all employees of the City Hall. The bistro will be run by a company whose mission is to actively support people with mental or physical disabilities and to help involve them in society. At the same time, I am glad that it emphasizes ecology and use of regional food,” Mayor Hřib said.
Etincelle helps to show that social entrepreneurship has a place in the Czech Republic, according to a City Hall press release. Etincelle operates a network of cafes and bistros, its own craft bakery, farm, catering service, and foodtruck called Bistro Na Kolečkách. The group employs 150 people with mild mental or multiple disabilities in its social enterprises. Among other things, it has a laundry and cleans public areas and greenery.
“I am extremely pleased that the city is setting an example to society in the belief that humanity is just one. From my own observation I know very well that clients who get involved in the work process will gain not only self-confidence but also a sense of [belonging to] everyday life,” author Nesvadbová said.
Employees and visitors to Prague City Hall can enjoy fair trade coffee, fresh juices, and homemade non-alcoholic beverages. The bistro offers a breakfast menu so visitors can enjoy sweet and savory pastries, sourdough bread and cakes from Etincelle’s craft bakery in Kladno. A daily menu of hot meals and soups is also available after breakfast. Meals will be prepared with fresh seasonal ingredients from the Etincelle farm and from local suppliers.
The bistro is open Monday to Thursday from 8 am to 5 pm and Friday from 8 am to 2:30 pm.
“We will adjust the current offer according to needs and gradually expand from October. In addition to ready-made meals, we also plan quick meals of pasta, risotto and salads,” Etincelle founder and director Jakub Knězů said.
“With every purchase, visitors not only enjoy [food], but also do a good deed. People with mild mental or multiple disabilities will work behind the bar and prepare snacks and meals,” he added.
The bistro space was renovated by edit! architects, who designed it as a bright space open to all. The interior respects the context of an important historic building and is equipped with furniture from Czech manufacturers. The space had been closed for more than a year and is now starting with a new operator that won a tender announced by City Hall.
The New City Hall (Nová radnice) was built in 1908–11, after a design by architect Osvald Polívka. It has a facade in the Art Nouveau style with sculptures by noted artists Stanislav Sucharda, Josef Mařatka and Ladislav Šaloun.
The bistro comes along at the same time that City Hall will be opening up Mariánské náměstí to the public by converting it from a parking lot into a public space.