30.10.2018 12:03

I fell in love with the city, says Englishman who wants to open a coffee shop in Prague

Autor: Zuzana Formánková | Kurz: English section | Kategorie: Features and other

Whenever I walk into a student coffee house where Reggie Metcalfe works, I see him smiling widely and chatting with customers who are sitting at the bar, waiting for their beer or coffee to go. Today is one such day. People would say he is just another great, qualified waiter. As a matter of fact, today’s coffee is served by successful British businessman on his way to make his dream come true: he wants to start his own coffee shop in Prague.

Reggie Metcalfe working in Cafe Prostoru_. Author: Cafe Prostoru

PRAGUE – It was a long way for Reggie to get from the city of London to Dejvice Campus in Prague. He comes from a family of four children. When he was six years old, his parents split up and he never saw his father anymore after that. “We lived in one room with my mum and three sisters until I was twelve,” Reggie says, without sounding like he is sorry for himself.

Reggie, the English gentleman behind the bar, is a good example of how you do not need rich parents and expensive schools when you are capable to achieve something on your own. He has truly achieved a lot already. Back in London, he started a business which is still making him money. He has his own green groceries, which seems to be quite surprising field of business for a guy obsessed with the idea of having a coffee shop. “I used to earn 10,000 pounds a month. Now I earn what? 10,000 Czech crowns a month?” he says, laughing.

When you ask him how he got here in the Czech Republic, he will answer you with his funny made-up story: “I fell asleep on a plane. I was going to Germany, but I was drunk and violent so they threw me off here. I left my bag on the plane and I have no money, so I’m looking to get some money to fly back to London!” He can tell the story so convincingly that you would even believe him. However, his decent manner and suggestive British accent reveal that Reggie is not alcoholic or violent; he is just joking all the time.

“I actually met this beautiful Czech girl in London. On our first date, I didn’t know how Czechs greet somebody. So instead of shaking her hands, I was going to kiss her on both sides of the cheek as I would with every woman,” he starts telling another story. “I walked up to her and wanted to do that, but she didn’t move! So I kissed her straight on the lips. She almost slapped me,” Reggie says. Nevertheless, there was a second date. Eventually, they got married after some time.

Reggie and his wife were often visiting Czech Republic, where she had family and friends. He came to Prague for the first time, and he says he fell in love with the city immediately. Reggie and his wife had to work really hard in London, so they used to miss each other, working long hours. “So I said: ‘Why don’t we take a risk? Why don’t we just move to Prague?’ My wife didn’t really want to do it at the beginning. She liked London and she liked high life she had in there. But I wanted to live a little bit calmer,” he says. Finally, he convinced her. They sold Reggie’s house in London and bought a flat in Prague.

His dream is to open his own hipster coffee shop in Prague. “It’s not about money. It’s about achieving something: London guy comes to Prague, doesn’t know Czech language… In London, you can see a shop on Friday: on Monday you could open. It’s so easy.” On the other hand, the way government runs in the Czech Republic is completely different. Reggie has struggled to open his coffee-shop for over a year now.

He has already found premises for his cafe, but it was unused for six years, so it needs full renovation. You can see from the way he talks how he enjoys planning and deciding how his small, long-dreamed cafe will look one day. “I have some Slovakian friends here: one is an architect, one is a graphic designer and so on. So we made a business plan together,” he says, smiling. He is going to invest 3 million crowns in his rented coffee shop. “If it works, I will get my money back in five years. And it will, I know it. I have a plan,” Reggie says.

Until then, he is doing his job in the coffee house in Dejvice Campus: students are his colleagues and also the most common customers. He is great in his job because he loves talking to people and he knows that his customer is the most important thing. “One day, I was standing here behind the bar and there were four girls outside the coffee house. Two of them sat in the deck chairs, the other two just stood there. I saw it through the window, so I walked out there and brought them another two deck chairs. I know no one from the stuff would do that. They wouldn’t see it – and I saw these things.” He definitely can appreciate himself, but when you see him serving people their drinks, you know he tells you the truth this time.

Reggie doesn’t speak Czech yet. “I had lessons of Czech language, but I think that things I learned weren’t necessary. I talked to other foreigners and they told me they had learned Czech in pubs,” he says, believing that he will improve his Czech once he opens his coffee shop and he will talk to customers. He doesn’t need it most of the time because he can speak English here, but it makes sense for him as he wants to live in Czech Republic forever. “It took me three years to decide to come here. Now I know I want to stay here,” Reggie smiles.



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