Although Lokál draws inspiration from common Czech pubs, it offers quality gastronomy. How did you manage to combine those two antipoles?
We cook from common ingredients and we don’t use any substitutes, artifical flavouring and other tricks that spread in pubs so that the cooks get extra time and lower the expenses. We cook according to classical Czech recipes in the old traditional way. For instance, we make bouillon from meat and vegetables during the night and use it in the basis of sauces, we fry the schnitzel on butter or lard. It is important for us to use the best ingredients.
One finds specifically Czech traditional dishes like smažák (fried cheese) with potato salad on the menu. How do these dishes appeal to the tourists?
They like them. Fried cheese and schnitzels are the two favourite dishes on the menu. Of course it sometimes happens that the tourists order an inappropriate side dish as dumplings or kolínka with the Czech classics. In those cases we try to explain that in combination with potatoes or potato salad they’ll enjoy it much more.
Lokál is most of all a paradise for beer drinkers. What distinguishes a true bartender?
Carefully treated beer. Our bartenders take care of it from the moment it comes to the restaurant till the point they put it on the table. We keep to these rules so that the beer tastes fresh till the very last drop: good beer, conscientious bartender, short tubes, constant temperature and clean glass.
There are various ways you tap Pilsner beer. Could you explain the differences among them?
The three ways we usually tap beer are called hladinka, šnyt and mlíko. Hladinka is not as popular as the others although it is the most gentle way to tap beer. In this case, beer is tapped in one flow, foam comes first and it serves to keep the beer from becoming flat. Šnyt is something that other pubs only offer to their regulars but at Lokál anyone can have it. Bartenders used to drink šnyt to taste the quality of their beer. Karel Čapek described Šnyt in Lidové Noviny (a newspaper) in 1936 as “a pint that isn’t full, with foam reaching about to half of the pint; the amount of foam in the pint depends solely on the good will of the bartender.” That said, in Lokál you will, therefore, never face the dilemma of “having one more” or “no more”. Šnyt is not only more than nothing, it is in a way as much as you could ever get. It is a perfect picture of the bartender’s skills and it says a lot about the quality of the beer. Our guests can also enjoy our beer tapped as mlíko (milk). In this case, the pint is filled only with creamy beer foam. It is so smooth and velvety that it can be drunk right away and it resembles a glass of milk. The best way to enjoy this beer is right at the bar – literally from hand to mouth. If requested, we can also tap čochtan which is beer with no foam at all. It is great for quenching one’s thirst but it has to be drunk rather fast as it has absolutely no foam and is therefore likely to become flat quite fast.
There are plenty of minor breweries in Bohemia, yet still you remain faithful to one particular brand. Why the Pilsner Urquell?
We consider the Pilsner Urquell one of the best beers here. It also meets our demands on constant quality and it manages to smoothly supply all our restaurants.
There are also a lot of other restaurants under the Ambiente brand. Which one is your favourite and why?
That’s a tough question - as if I had to say which of my children I love the most. I always spend the most energy on the latest project, so I’m currently enjoying Eska the most.
You’ve been in the fashion environment for 8 years. How would you describe the development of your brand? What situations were of cardinal importance?
It’s been a game for me the whole time. Something that I love, something I’m keen on. I’ve moved from sporty colourful street style fashion to the fashion that is more feminine and minimalistic. Although saying that, it’s still based on sporty and comfortable design and functional materials. The moment of cardinal importance for me is when I manage to establish a relationship with some of the local companies or a nice boutique.
You’ve managed to get orders since your studies of fashion design. But you left school before your graduation. Retrospectively, do you consider it as the right move?
Everything has its reverse and obverse side. I think that my learning process by the method of try-fail helped me gain a lot of experience, albeit making a lot of mistakes and odd decisions :) Nobody paved the way for me how to do fashion and, therefore, I found my own, which I consider as an advantage. However, at the end I graduated from Multimedia and Design at Tomas Bata University in Zlín, which I studied long-distance.
Today you have a team of people helping you with ODIVI. What was the first time you realised you need more people? Do you surround yourself with your friends only at work?
I didn’t realise it for a long time. I thought that I had to do it myself. Wise advice from my friend made me realise that I need assistants and interns. My family and friends used to help me in the first instance but today I have interns from abroad and new people who joined us through our call on social media. They can gain experience, we share our contacts with them, barter and at the end they get an opportunity to create their own project.
What was the main inspiration for your spring collection? How long do you work on one collection? What is the most exciting phase?
SS14 DUBIK collection was like the end of one sentence and the beginning of a new one. SS15 and AW15 come from my passion for travelling. They are about the moments when I have the feeling that I can do everything, about extreme contrasts, sea, mountains, timelessness, moments, and superheroines. A collection like this takes about a year and a half to realise. From the first thoughts and designs, through a pattern production, photographing, fashion show, to its final stage of delivering it for customers. I enjoy most the moment of unpacking a new freshly-printed catalogue.
Do you design models for yourself too? What do you feel the most comfortable in?
I do and in the end the models usually end up in our Essentials collections. Variable dresses are made for me as they can be worn in every situation. Most of the time you will see me wearing leggings, oversized t- shirts, men’s second hand shirts, and sweaters. Coats are my weakness – I tailor a colourful ODIVI one for myself each year. Instead of a purse I prefer an ODIVI backpack or fanny pack.
What Czech or foreign fashion brands have interested you recently?
I enjoy Local Icons in the Czech Republic - the connection of young designers, traditional brands, and production makes sense to me. I love Polanka, enjoy Petra Ptáčková, and laugh the most with LaFormela. If I was looking to expand my closet I would shop in Slovakia at Drevená Helena. Nanushka and Dori Tomcsanyi from Hungary fascinate me with their readiness and world-wideness.
Do you plan to promote ODIVI abroad? Which city do you consider to be the main fashion centre? What about Prague?
Not only with ODIVI. I would generally love to travel more often and at the moment I’m determined to achieve it. I see cities in a more complex way than only from the fashion perspective – I enjoy the energy, people, architecture, food, and everything around. This also forms how I perceive fashion in a city. I’m after the undiscovered: young designers, hidden studios, concept stores, or flea markets. All those cities have something about them and they are all different – I can’t choose one. The same goes for Prague.
(Iva Burkertová, founder and creative director of ODIVI)