A place to meet, either for business or pleasure, relax with friends, bring your children … or fund a political party. Everyone’s vision for opening a café is different, but the new Sicily café, located on Senovážné náměstí, is a fresh and new place to get a nice cup of coffee. And part of the proceeds will help fund Strana zelených (SZ), the Czech Green Party.
“We were thinking how we could transparently finance the party, looking at new fundraising that’s one part, the other part is focusing on small donations,” Tomáš Průša, party spokesman and co-owner and director of Sicily, a coffee importer and distributor, told Czech Position. “I’d been wanting to open my own café anyway, so I offered my services to the party.”
The café is located in the same building as the Green Party's Prague headquarters, on a fairly drab square. With the only culinary competition seeming to come from the XXX Restaurace a couple of doors down (yes, that’s its name), it should be a welcome addition to the neighborhood.
“We want it to be a ‘green hub,’ a place for people who think green to meet, have discussions, make it an informal extension of their office,” Průša explained. “We are calling it a green restart — a restart of the Green Party, one year after the bad results in the last election it is the right time to restart the Greens.”
The Green Party made it into the lower house for the first time in June 2006. From 2007-2009, they were a junior party in the coalition government made up of the Civic Democrats and Christian Democrats. In the 2010 elections however they did not retain their seats in the Chamber of Deputies. Průša says that they need a variety of fund-raising methods to raise the money needed to get back into Parliament, and they want to do it transparently.
“Our financial goal is to cover all the costs of the cafe, pay all the bills of the Prague headquarters, and then secondly to make a profit,” he said. “It’s not a charity, but business with charity.”
There’s a secondary goal as well, one closer to his party’s beliefs. “We also want to show people that it is possible to do business in a green way, that it’s not nonsense,” he said. “We believe in it.”
Local products, local energy
The non-smoking café will be run on renewable energy supplied by the company NanoEnergies. Průša said they want to only use local or bio products, no plastic bottles and in the future hire foreigners who need assistance with integration. He also hopes that if the concept takes off, other local party groups will open similar cafés in their towns.
The café is still in the infant stage; with reconstruction not completely finished and staff still finding their footing. A recent visit saw the remains of lunch on the table next to us, however no menu or food was offered. A drinks menu was brought; we had to ask about cakes. Service was polite and timely; a mid-afternoon, mid-week visit saw 3 or 4 tables filled, seemingly with people relaxing, not doing business.
Coffee prices are good — Kč 35 for a cappuccino; Kč 30 for an espresso; Kč 45 for a bio tea and Kč 40 for a slice of cake. The apple cake was okay, fresh enough, but nothing special. Sicily also has Bernard beer (Kč 27 for .4L) and Kofola (Kč 10 for .1L) on tap. Průša says he hopes the café will become a meeting place for families on the weekends; they already have a children’s corner and are planning special kids programming in the upcoming months.
The interior is modern but austere, in shades of beige. Large windows and open doors make it bright and airy. Walls are decorated right now with lovely landscapes, supplied by a local young artist. Průša says they plan to rotate works by young artists, as the party isn’t only about the environment but culture, too. Průša says they plan to rotate works by young artists, as the party isn’t only about the environment but culture, too.
And visitors won’t have to worry about being bombarded with political messages or propaganda. With the exception of some brochures and such, there’s no written statement about the connection. Průša isn’t worried that people will avoid the café because they don’t want to contribute to the Greens.
“Some people may have a problem with it, but I hope not,” he said. “On the other hand, Green Party members and supporters will bring in more people than the few people who might be scared away by it; in Prague especially the green network is quite good.”
At the end of the day though, Sicily is simply another café, but a quality one in an area that could use a bit of freshening up. “I want to see this place full of people, and where people look at like home,” Průša said.
Senovážné náměstí, Prague 1
Jacy Meyer is a Prague-based freelance writer