She wasn’t a Crown like a Crown. The self-service buffet on Wenceslas Square was supposed to be a night refuge for the hungry

It was supposed to be the beginning of the future. No queues at the hot or cold counter, like in regular buffets. Only vending machines with sandwiches, cakes, drinks, cookies and other snacks. You drop a coin into the hole and you can eat or drink. This is how the small Korunka buffet was born at the lower end of Wenceslas Square. It is already clear from the name that he was born by his mother Koruna, the guru and foremother of Czechoslovak folk canteens.

Searching for the past of the self-service snack bar named Korunka was not entirely easy. There are basically no mentions of him on the internet, or at least I haven’t looked for them. There is also zero trace in the photo archives. Also, I couldn’t remember exactly where this socialist attempt at an unmanned cafeteria of the future was located. The brain is not always the most reliable chronicle. I was convinced that from the point of view of St. Wenceslas, it was somewhere in the lower right, perhaps somewhere next to the modernist building of the ČKD, directly opposite the Korun’s mother buffet.

Remembrancers mainly remember the sandwiches

Visitors to the Stará Prague beautiful portal helped in other memories. For that, I thank them and give them a big bow. So read along with them and reminisce… Some witnesses mention the prices, others give Korunka already at the turn of the 70s and 80s of the last century. Memories of prizes also differ.

    • “It was on the left towards the museum, cakes were sold there. Then there were some shoes for foreigners,” remembers Batoh Batoch.
    • Prokop Hanč recalls: “Since the commitments in the 80s, they have installed vending machines for hot and cold drinks, packaged wafers and more.”
    • “I definitely went there with my future wife around 1979 to 1980. Rotating machines for sandwiches and cakes, I don’t know anymore. Mainly, they were open maybe until midnight,” Láďa Štefan remembered.
    • Lenka Patricie Vaňková used to go there with her boyfriend: “For a crown to the vending machine!” Jakub Volek: “Well, as a shopaholic, I admired the vending machines for cakes and sandwiches the most. I suspect it’s crazy. How about fifty today, so quite expensive sandwiches.’
    • Bedřich Seidler claims that the cakes and pastries were worth a crown. “I was young, the floors rotated, you chose what you liked.” Jitka and Karel Černých also have memories: “We always went there when the police drove us out of the stock market in Havelák. It was great there for that time. Vending machines for sandwiches, lemonade, cakes, desserts. A few crowns came in handy and that was it. I remember it fondly.’
    • “We used to go there after closing time in pubs for bottlers,” recalls Petr Dýšinský. They say they had Staropramen there. “A lot of things cost a crown. Legend.”
    • “Especially hot chocolate, that was a unique hit back then! Rotating machines for sandwiches,” adds Ivana Přibylová.
    • “The price was slightly higher than in the store, the machines were relatively defective, one always did not work. Korunka had a special smell and atmosphere, which is why my classmates and I often went there. I have never seen a similar shop anywhere else at the time. Korunka was on the street 28. Octríva on the left side when walking towards Václavák, almost on Můstek,” explained Radek Cholík.
    • “The big buns with salami and garnish were yummy,” remembers Jiřina Žáčková.
    • František Pejřimovský: “No attendant, only machines. On the other hand, non-stop.”
    • “It was really with five to six vending machines for drinks and sandwiches. We used to have hot chocolate there after dancing,” recalls Jaroslav Krupka.

I also couldn’t remember when this miracle of the gastronomy of the time opened. But it must have been the late eighties. Sometime at the same time, or a little later, a few hundred meters away, on Příkopě, the Arbat opened, something like the soft center of the Eastern Bloc. However, both Arbat and Korunka did not survive the onset of capitalism.

Only watching the movie Wild Pig helped. The social crime film was created in 1989, and if the regime had not fallen, it could have become the second blockbuster of Bony a klid, a film that also unadornedly showed how capitalist relations worked in a communist environment. But November 1989 was against it, and when Wild Swine went to cinemas, it was 1990 and the topic was already exhausted by that time. Three decades later, however, I see it differently. The film amazingly preserved the atmosphere, clothing, and behavior of people before the very end of the regime. And also the center of Prague. What did Václavák look like in 1989? Who else remembers?

And then, in one short shot almost at the end of the film, I noticed a sign behind Ondřej Pavelka, who played a policeman. He was moving down on Wenceslas Square, and the sign Korunka flashes behind him for a few moments. In the right corner of the Rapid Palace, where the foreign trade company and various similar and affiliated organizations were located.

The article is in Czech


Tags: wasnt Crown Crown selfservice buffet Wenceslas Square supposed night refuge hungry

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