Around this time in 2013, I was on my way back to St. Louis from Zagreb. Six months there had depleted my resources and my will to engage Croatian residence bureaucracy any further, but while in Zagreb I had finished and published my book, Dalmatian Cooking. A big sale of books to a Croatian cultural organization in New Zealand was getting me home.
Czech Republic was just a layover en route to Amsterdam, where I would stay with a high school friend until flying back to the US. I only spent four days in Prague, near the central train station downtown. I would have stayed there forever if I was in any position to go through Czech residence bureaucracy. Prague is exquisitely beautiful, and Czech food is a simple, homey delight.
And, you can eat very cheaply there. During the lunchtime hours, many restaurants in Czech Republic (or Czechia, if you prefer the more elegant name) offer a short list of basic, homestyle dishes, ready to serve and offered at a very low price, often as low of 150 Czech koruna ($6.50 USD!).
The Czech lunch menu, or polední menu, is a fixed-price selection of classic Czech food for people who want to eat, pay, and leave. And that’s what’s expected of you when you exercise the option. Do not dawdle and linger!
The food is generally very tasty and satisfying. A few slices of knedlik (bread or potato dumpling) form the basis for plates of saucy stewed meats or vegetables.
I hadn’t really considered doing a quick-serve version of LUKA, but I’ve been approached about doing some quicker-serve pop-ups in St. Louis. My mind went almost immediately to the Czech lunch menu: Simple homestyle preparations, easily served and almost universally loved.
So, I am looking into producing this service model in St. Louis. I’ll share details of its development as they arise, both here and in the newsletter.