After establishing several successful gourmet restaurants around Prague, Zatisi Group is going to run the new AAU cafe. “Zatisi Group is willing to change menus according to the students’ wishes, which is one of main reasons why we chose it as our new cafe company,” said Vera Prevratilova, Chief Operating Officer at AAU.

Staff at Zatisi declined to comment, saying details will be known in January.

The new AAU building is more spacious and more suitable for having a cafe than the previous one.”The new university building in the Thurn-Taxis Palace will have a total size of 2068 square meters, the two old school buildings had together 1174 square meters,” said Zdenek Johanovsky, Director for Operations and Budgeting at AAU.

The cafe, which will be located on the ground floor, will feature approximately 38 seats. In the summer, it will be possible to eat outside in the inner yard with another 20 seats available. According to Prevratilova, the school will have four student lounges, where it will be possible to bring food from the cafe or from somewhere else.

1200px-Bacon_jam_sandwich_with_soupZatisi Group’s opening menu will offer breakfast menu, soups, pasta, risotto, salads, fresh juices, coffee and weekly international menus. According to Prevratilova, they are willing to offer vegan and vegetarian food – just anything the students will demand, as long as the food is possible to transport in plastic barrels to the school.

On Nov. 12, AAU sent a survey via email, asking students what kind of food they would like to have in the new cafe and for what prices. They are even thinking about including alcoholic beverages, such as wine and beer.

“Hopefully they would not abuse it”, said Prevratilova about AAU students and the alcohol at school. “The main idea is that if there are meetings after the official school time, it could be nice to have an opportunity of some soft alcohol,” said Prevratilova.

“The vending machines for sandwiches and sweets will not be in the new building anymore. The drinking fountains are going to be distributed throughout the whole school building,” Johanovsky said. “The vast majority of the food and drinks is going to cost around 30 crowns”, added Prevratilova.

In the online survey, 57% of students are willing to pay 50-70 Kc for lunch. “And good fresh coffee for reasonable price (meaning up to 30 Kc maximum for an espresso/americano)”, mentioned an anonymous participant in the survey.

“It is possible that students could pay in the cafe with their ISIC cards, as now it is used for printing or copying in the library”, said Johanovsky. “But we are not sure yet,” he added. It will be possible to pay with credit cards, along with cash, which is convenient for the exchange students.

The company running the cafe was not chosen with a tender, but according to Internet reviews and personal visits to the companies and talking to the staff.

Johanovsky and Prevratilova are the main initiators of the idea about school cafe, and therefore are in charge of choosing the company. They did not want to do a tender because they wanted to visit the companies themselves to see how it really works.

They were chosing between Costa Coffee, Kafe Klarov, Boulevard, Paul and Zátiší Group, which won in the end. The main reason for not choosing any of the other listed above was unwillingness to adapt their menus according to what the students want. For example, Cafe Klarov only offered muffins in many different variations and nothing else.

“Zatisi Group, on the contrary, is willing to completely adapt to the student’s environment,” said Prevratilova. They will offer freshly made sandwiches and lunch deal soups. “We want to avoid possible risk of salmonella with factory made sandwiches,” Prevratilova said.

Zatisi Group will have three months probationary period during spring semester, and at the end the students will decide whether they are happy with the service and food. It will be mainly students’ decision because the school will not have any profit from the café.

Zatisi Group will not pay rent to the school in order to keep the prices as low as possible. The profit earned will go into wages of the workers and to the company. According to Johanovsky, one barista and one waiter will work at the cafe. “The opening hours will be clearer in January”, said Johanovsky, but “ideally will be from 8 AM to 8 PM.”

According to Prevratilova, in the future, it could be possible for some students to work part-time in the cafe, if the demand is big enough.

Some restaurants in AAU’s old campus proximity might be affected by the university’s move. Bohemian Bagel seems to be a popular place for lunch breaks among AAU students. The operating manager of Bohemian Bagel, Andrea Brandova contemplated upcoming changes, saying “for sure 50% of our costumers are AAU students.”

However, she is not scared of losing the majority of student customers after the move. She plans to distribute leaflets in the new building next semester and to impose some discounts in order to attract new students.

In an online survey among AAU students, only one out of 44 did not want to visit the new cafe because they preferred to stay loyal to other business near school.

If Zatisi Group will not succeed after the spring semester, new search for a company will begin, according to Prevratilova. However, Zatisi Group seems to be more than promising.

By Katerina Glacnerova