When Czech restaurant Bistro Praha was destroyed by fire in March 2009, server Sharka Svajgr says she felt like she lost a friend. The daughter of a famous Czech chef, she moved to Canada in 1980 at 14 and, two years later, was hired by Praha’s original owner, Frantisek Cikanek. She made lifelong friends there, fell in love and married another server, Daniel Schultz.
It was her life. When it burned down, she says, “our dreams were shattered. We had no future, no jobs and no idea what would happen. I told my husband, ‘If you love me, you’ll buy the bistro.’ I guess he loved me.”
Late last year, Svajgr, Schultz, her brother, Milan Svajgr, and his girlfriend, Alena Bacovsky, bought the bistro from the Cikanek family.
Unfortunately, the opening was delayed when Sharka went through treatment for cancer. Currently, the disease is in remission, so they were able to move forward with the grand opening in December.
The new location in the Empire Building, just two blocks from the original spot, is a replica of the old, Svajgr says, with the same decor – and the same treasured menu. That means the schnitzel, sauerkraut, goose and even the salad named after her by her former employer are still there, waiting for the regulars. Those regulars included some of the NHL’s all-star Eastern European players looking for a taste of home. “Most of the Czech hockey players came after the game; win or lose, the teams would sit together and no hard feelings,” she says. (10117 101 St., 780-424-4218)