You ran the very popular Hapu bar in Prague for a long time. Was the opening of bistro another step that you had planned from the beginning? Why was Hapu bar closed?
Hapu bar was our life. We were completely absorbed by it. Everything was for the first time and new. It seemed to last forever. Years had been flying by until we counted 16 of them. In the meantime, our kids were born and our lives changed. We started enjoying eating more than drinking. And thus, the bistro was the next logical step.
The bistro has been running for two years now. Did your customers from Hapu bar move to Martin’s bistro or did it attract a different kind of clientele? How big was the change for you personally?
A lot of our customers are our friends who grew older with us at Hapu bar. Also, every new place brings new people. So it is a mix of both. It is interesting that we meet people who are our customers at some other places that are our favorites too.
Martin’s bistro’s kitchen is renowned all over Vinohrady. You cook types of food from around the world, which is when it comes to most restaurants rather a disadvantage, but at your place the food is great. How do you manage?
I’m always delighted with such a compliment. I guess it is because we only cook what we eat ourselves.
Besides the food, the interior of Martin’s bistro is worth noticing. How did you discover the space and how was it appealing to you?
There used to be a café that our friends ran. So we were familiar with the space. When they closed and sold the café after it had been open for years, we stopped going there. After a while the space appeared advertised online at the same time as when we decided for a change. The interior was designed by the sculptor Filip Roztočil - our friend who also designed Hapu bar omega replique
and knows what we like well.
It is said that a small restaurant can profit only if its owner gives all his time to it. How about you? How much time do you spend at Martin’s bistro?
Apart from working, we also spend our free time. So there is something in it.
Your place is still busy. Do you advertise the bistro actively on social media, or is it a word-of-mouth in Prague?
Word-of-mouth works naturally but I think that marketing can’t be ignored completely. Thus, even we got stuck in its networks, including the social ones.
Kafemat is meant to be a takeaway place. Was this the concept right from the beginning?
Actually, yes. The space is too small for anything else, really. Have a stand-up espresso, sit at the window for a while or take your coffee with you.
The interior is architectonically clean and looks as though it has always been part of the functionalist building. How did it come into existence and how did you go about choosing the space?
Getting the space was kind of a coincidence. To my own surprise, I won an open competition. My previous attempts were fruitless so I was a little sceptical. Afterwards, it was basically ‘do it yourself’ and the cheapest way possible.
Dejvice were lacking a café like yours for quite a while. Is it mostly locals who visit the café? Do they really stop by for coffee on their way to work or it doesn’t really work that way?
Vast majority of customers are locals. Dejvice are a calm residential part of town and people flow is therefore not large. Our customers are mostly people with kids, dog walkers and people who work in the offices nearby. Some people like to take a short break during their busy day and hide here for a while and others take their coffee to work.
Most of today’s cafés with a good name offer either doubleshot or mamacoffee. Why did you go for doubleshot?
We like doubleshot a lot and that is the coffee and also the people around it. They have helped us a great deal and they provide excellent and friendly service. It was a great choice. We have now, after a year, added coffee from London Square Mile into our offer. We have a soft spot for that one as well and it has been keeping our grinders busy more and more often. We also switch among different roasting houses from abroad after a few kilos. It is fun for us and our customers as well.
The number of cafés offering excellent coffee has been growing in the past few years. It seems as though the traditional cafés such as Slavia have snoozed a little. How would you comment on that?
I’d say that the owners of these types of cafés are not interested in coffee so much. This is also caused by the taste preferences that people are used to, conservatism and unconditional love for cheaper Italian mixtures. If people keep ordering it, they should not be surprised to get it.
What was your occupation before you opened Kafemat?
I worked as a graphic designer. I was tired of sitting in front of a computer, though. I needed to get out there and be around people.