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Life in Czech Republic – eating out

Whilst this should strictly come under the “customer services” subject, I felt the restaurants needed their own article. I would like to make it clear that many of the restaurants in the center of Prague give the standard, expected service. This is in consideration of the fact that most who work in these places are foreigners and have a lot of exposure to visitors. As a result the experience can be considered “normal”, whatever that is.

Examples and experiences:

1. Two Americans bought a coffee each. Whilst it took time to get served they were patient enough to let this lack of prompt service go unnoticed. The single waitress, who was obviously stressed, served the coffee but managed to spill one all over the gentleman. Whilst being apologetic she didn’t make any effort to make amends. The gent, quite rightly, refused the now half full cup and asked for it to be re-filled. The waitress came back with the manager who was demanding to know why it was sent back and what the problem was. She then proceeded, in front of all the other customers, to argue with the gent the principle that in fact it was not her problem that the coffee was half full and why should she bother filling it further.

2. In a resteraunt-bar close to where I work the service is appaling. The food is good, but does not make up for the lack of customer service. For example, the waiter/waitress will completely ignore you even when you ask for a menu. When you do eventually get one it will take ages for them to come back and take the order, if at all. The last time we ever went there, my wife was waiting to be served, and waiting, and waiting. Asking for a menu was pointless, the entire staff were more interested in chatting with an elder, leather clad biker who didn’t even order anything. They had the nerve to even look her straight in the eye, and ignore her.

3. More often than not the service never even comes. More than once we have been sitting in a bar/restaurant for 20+ mins and never even saw a waiter/waitress. Service can be slow or simply non-existant. This suprises me because a large group will be handing over large amounts of cash. We just get up and walk out.

4. We have even be refused service in one place because there were too many of us. And the place was empty.

5. Tips. If you pay by credit card you can’t add a tip to the bill, especially when you are about to sign the slip. There is always a line stating “Service…….” but when you try to add it onto the slip they say they can’t add it on. They lose the tip!
6. Smoking. It appears to be law here (although I am not 100% sure) that during lunch times it is not possible to smoke. I say this because most places to eat seem to encourage people to smoke. I do not like eating in places that permit smoking, or at least do not provide non-smoking areas. Once such place that does have a sign on its door was a good Pizza place near the center of the city. I took my wife there one Saturday only to find people lighting up. When I asked them to stop (because the big sign said do not smoke during lunch time) the waitress said that today they were not bothering to enforce this because the staff on duty didn’t care. We walked out.
7. I was once told that this particular place could not serve food because the bolier wasn’t working and they couldn’t heat water. However, they could serve me tea or coffee (No, I didn’t understand this either)
8. Service of a different kind, one lunch time we were at a Greek place and a prostitute (wearing something that left little to the imagination, and it was very cold outside) started working the tables looking for business.
9. A lot of places we used to eat at in the center of the city were expensive anyway, but the food was good. However, within a few weeks they changed the menus and prices went up by a few Euros and portions went smaller. This is the sad reality of when somewhere hits the big time with tourists.

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