Milan Kotlár: Our Romani restaurant in Český Krumlov is closed, Czech state support will not rescue us
ROMEA TV has interviewed Romani businessman Milan Kotlár of Český Krumlov, Czech Republic. He is the owner of the Cikánská jizba family restaurant, which has more than 20 years of tradition behind it.
How have the Czech Government's measures to address the COVID-19 pandemic influenced the owners of restaurants? What are the forecasts for this kind of enterprise?
Richard Samko interviewed Kotlár about these and other questions. The restaurant owner said he personally believes his own family has undergone infection by COVID-19; it is not known whether that has been independently verified.
Kotlár said he believes the disease developed differently for each family member. "We've probably already had this virus. My wife fell ill in December and I fell in in January. It took my wife a month to get over it, it took me 14 days. Our son, who uses a wheelchair, had it for a week," he said.
At the restaurant, disinfection and other measures were undertaken in November, when the media began to report on the first cases. Unfortunately, despite those precautions, Kotlár had to close the restaurant when the Government declared a state of emergency and had to begin addressing his financial crisis as quickly as possible.
"We immediately began negotiating with the banks, because I have two mortgages. However, right from the start they told us that they would not suspend the payment requirement, just reduce the fees for us. We have to keep paying, otherwise we might end up on the list of debtors. Naturally, I didn't want that. I solved it by using all financial means available to me and also borrowing from somebody I know. In March we still had to pay both mortgages," the restaurant owner said.
Český Krumlov is a famous tourist destination not just for visitors from abroad, but also a town that is frequently visited by Czechs. "We aren't serving food, there is no demand for it, there's no interest, people are staying home. We are dependent on tourists, but predominantly on our own people. That means people from Krumlov, from the immediate neighborhood, and people from all over the Czech Republic. There are people who used to come to Krumlov for the weekend, they were very important for us," the restaurant owner said.
"I hope our people will spend the summer at home this year. They will travel around the regions and spend their money at home in the Czech lands. That's the only thing that will save us," Kotlár said.
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