czech republic pubs

Czech waiters aren't that bad

Perhaps living in London, one of the rudest cities on Earth, has given us a twisted perspective, but it seems to us that Czech waiters are getting a bad rep. Here’s a typical comment from a 2004 column in the Independent:

I thought French waiters were rude until I went to Prague. I saw a bullet-headed Czech waiter terrorise a French family, who asked if they could have half a meal for a small child without paying the full price. “Is not possible,” the waiter repeated over and over. “Is not possible. You better go now.” Whether this is Czech behaviour or post-Soviet behaviour I’m not sure, but the phrase “Is not possible” seems to be the motto of all Czech restaurants, hotels and taxi firms

On our recent holiday, we had geared ourselves up for sullen indifference at best; Fawltyesque rudeness at worst. Would we get shouted at? Insulted? Ignored?

In short, no. We found all but two waiters fairly friendly. A couple of the better ones were, well, downright cheerful — almost as if there was a spark of genuine human feeling behind their professional smiles.

It might have helped that we’d mustered a few words of Czech (“Hello”, “two beers, please”, “thank you very much”).

Of course, another possibility is that, having noted the uniform disgust with which their manners are regarded across the internet and print media, some of Prague’s bar managers and landlords have had a word with their staff:

“OK, impromptu staff meeting… I’ve had a crazy idea. I thought we’d try making our customers feel comfortable and happy here. Apparently, that goes down well. Weird, I know, but there you go. Let’s give it a try, see how it pans out.”

13 replies on “Czech waiters aren't that bad”

As you might be awara, I know a lot of places in Prague, of all kinds. I’ve lived here 7 years and I have never been able to understand why Czech waiters have such reputation.
Ok, most of them won’t smile even if their lives depened on it, but I really don’t care about it, I want someone to take my order and bring it without coking up, ripping me off or being rude, that is, in a nutshell, good service for me. If they happen to be friendly and all smiles, much the better, as long as that is geniune and not forced on them by the management.
Yes, of course I’ve run into a few idiots, some of whom I sincerelly wanted to punch in the face, but you can find those everywhere. And if I remember well, most of them were in the most touristy area.
Aslo, as you very well point out, knowing a few words in Czech makes a big difference.

Have to agree with PF on this one. Just because a waiter doesn’t grovel at my feet in eagerness of a tip doesn’t make the service bad. Mind you my definition of good service is: did I get what I ordered in a reasonable amount of time? I will however make one caveat, in my experience most of the really good bar staff in Prague are not from Prague but Moravian, Slovak or other assorted foreigners.

Try Riga if you want rude waiters. Or, not rude, perhaps. Just cold and uninterested. Not quite into the service economy yet.
Berlin has a reputation as well, but they seem to have mellowed a bit – not quite as Prussioan as they used to be, perhaps.

I’ve never found London to be a rude city, or Paris for that matter and it’s supposed to be famous for it. I’ve definitely encountered sullen surliness with Czech service, though.

My experience over there is that each time I go I end up counting how many times I say ‘miserable git’ in a bar or restaurant. Don’t get me wrong I hate fake happy service too but some small positive interaction would be nice. My orders are messed up there as much as here but then there is a language barrier over there so I suppose that’s a positive.

Many ‘Central/Eastern’ Europeans work in bars over here too and the same behaviour (or manner) seems so much more out of place in this country. That said, I think over here it boils down to Landlords and Managers training staff properly. Workers from those same areas seem perfectly amiable in establishments I’ve been to where the landlord keeps a tight ship.

I also have to point out that, on the whole, we’ve not exactly embraced the service culture in the UK. How many of us have experienced the ‘too cool for school’ waiter or the ignorant over-defensive barmaid who refuses to respond to a minor complaint.

Partly a clash of cultures, partly down to individual personalities but mostly down to bad management style. (at least in UK)

You could probably throw some blame at parents or Gordon Brown if you wanted. Or better still, Thatch!

I definitely don’t think that false smiles = good service. And often there are cultural differences in what we perceive to be friendliness (eg Koebes in Cologne also come across as being a bit abrupt, but they are just busy)

Not to mention social niceties such as saying hello when you walk into a bar or shop – pretty much a given in every country on the continent I’ve been too, but not so normal in Britain. I haven’t noticed much rudeness in France since I learned to say “Bonjour monsieur-dame” loudly and with a smile when I enter a shop, cafe or pub. Even if I have to do the rest of the conversation in very bad French or English.

Finally – is it a British thing to worry so much about whether the waiter likes you or not?

It could be that we feel we have ‘done something to upset them’ if they aren’t behaving in an expected manner. I’m not sure though, if you’re paying money, you expect the minimum level of civility but that in itself seems a vague notion in the UK. There must be limits in every country.

Among many of my peers, I’m not sure everyone cares about good service as much as I do.

London is one of the most angry cities on earth, I don’t really know why. Some people on the streets look as though they are about to explode with rage. London has its good points but you have to look hard to find them.

all i can say is that in just one day i had to manage with a rude dick head at the information desk in pragues main train station, and with a nice lady who was in charge of a toilette.
In the first case, this more on started the conversation when i asked if he understood english with a speach about why they dont need to do so, that we were in prague and the speak in chzech. Clear example of unhappiness about his life. The other one, she call me jew just for not going into a paz toilet. I think this resume czech people way of being with theirselves and with tourist. Waiters act as well. I m sure about something, i m not coming back to this fucking country again.

Czechs are just rude and racist! Period! I lived in Prague for years and I even speak Czech but all I can say is they have a LONG way to go in terms of service and people skills! Not to mention if you are coulured, leave now! Even my Italian friends on the darker side were treated so BADLY cause they hate the Roma community and assume all non whites are gypsies! sad people they are really!

Come have lunch with me in Prague 6 – Dejvice. I will show you a great sampling of thieving, bloated furymongers disguised as waiters and waitresses.

Yes, the stereotype is true, and is alive and well.

It doesn’t bother me that the Czechs don’t smile, because I am not the kind of person who expects that from others.

However, I don’t like the sarcastic, rude behavior of the women who work at the metro stations in Prague. If they worked somewhere in America, they would be fired on the spot for behaving this way! So, all I can say to these ladies is: “Don’t ever come to the U.S.A. and expect to get a job – any job – even working at McDonald’s”.

Comments are closed.