On Tuesday 17th May 2016, 120 years have passed since the official opening of the first restaurant in Budweiser Budvar brewery premises. It was an important social event for České Budějovice citizens, which was covered by the Bohemian newspaper Budivoj volume 32, Thursday 21st May 1896, pg. 2):
“Although the Czech Joint Stock Brewery’s restaurant was only officially opened on Sunday, it was already crowded throughout the whole day on Saturday. On Sunday, the flow of thirsty wanderers was perhaps even bigger. The restaurant is furnished in an elegant way, consisting of a large and a small hall, two rooms for clerks and the brewery staff. All the rooms are furnished with elegance like the best big town restaurants, having electric lighting. The restaurateur Otto Němeček, a former headwaiter at the Archduke Stephen in Prague, the Grand Hotel in Kolín and also a manager of Mayer restaurant (formerly Petzold) and the noble casino in Prague, in Celetná Street, is a renowned expert, whose cuisine as well as cellar are excellent, recommended to all epicureans. Guests who had previously preferred trips to the “forge” and to German pubs in Kněžské Dvory, Čtyři Dvory, České Vrbno and other German villages, will surely give preference during their trips to the excellent restaurant of Mr. Němeček. On Monday and Tuesday as well, the restaurant was frequently visited by guests who liked the restaurant very much. You can sit outside in the shade along the linden tree-lined street where the Bohemian beer tempts thirsty wanderers and tastes great in the heat. On Monday, the building of the summer veranda in the garden was launched.”
A new beer garden with a spacious skittle alley started its operation in the summer of 1896. From its very beginning, the brewery restaurant become a refuge for various Bohemian associations, even being busy in winter, as the Czech Joint Stock Brewery management allowed the Sokol movement to make a public skating rink next to the skittle alley. The brewery became a second centre of the Bohemian national life in the town after Beseda. As of 1896, the brewery garden saw reunions and festivities of Bohemian associations, such as Matice školská, Sokol movement, Baráčníci community and others that greatly contributed to the development of national consciousness as well as the social life of the Bohemian population. Nonetheless, Matice festivities enjoyed the greatest popularity being held annually from 1899, usually the last Sunday in June. The sixteenth - and the last - Matice festivities failed to have a happy ending, as it was interrupted due to the Sarajevo assassination, with the Austro-Hungarian Empire standing on the threshold of the First World War. (Source: I. Hain: book “Budweiser Budvar (1895-2015)”, published by: Budweiser Budvar, N.C. 2015).
The tradition brewery restaurants has continued uninterrupted till this day
In the area where the first brewery restaurant was run, the “Brewing Mater’s Community Hall" for 80 people is located today, where banquets, wedding receptions or corporate training are organised. The original entrance from Prague Street is now bricked up. From the 1960s, the brewery restaurant was relocated to a new building in K. Světlé Street. The “Formanka” beer restaurant on the first floor belonged to the most popular České Budějovice restaurants in the 1970s and 80s. In 1981, Mr. Milan Bláha became the head chef of “Formanka”. When today’s Budvar beer restaurant was opened to the public after nearly a 100 years on January 24th, 1996, Mr. Bláha became the head chef there, and has been working in this position to this day. The Budvar beer restaurant offers a wide selection of traditional Czech cuisine and excellent service. A knuckle of pork, cream vegetable sauce with dumplings and Budvar goulash with bacon dumplings rank amongst the renowned dishes here. The restaurant is usually hopelessly busy at lunch and dinner during the tourist season. People often use the Budvar beer restaurant for family celebrations or corporate parties. More information can be found here.
Matice festivities usually took place in several places at once - in Beseda, the municipal park and the brewery garden. The joint stock brewery management thought highly of Matice’s activities, as evidenced by the fact that during these festivities a so-called “Matice cannon” was installed in the garden, having been made in the Czech Joint Stock Brewery’s cask plant. It was a massive wooden pipe on wheels and when you shot in the back of it with a gun, a bang came out resembling shooting from a cannon. Once the management even had a “Matice electric tram” made for the festivities, which ran along the track circuit measuring about half a kilometre. It was powered by electricity from the local brewery generator. Visitors could then go on it for a modest fee during the whole day. That was before the introduction of public tram transport in České Budějovice (June 15th, 1909). Stalls with the joint stock beer were very popular with the visitors. An unpleasant situation occurred in 1907, when half-hour queues arose at the refreshments stalls. From the following year, the beer was tapped at twenty to thirty spots. (Source: I. Hain: book “Budweiser Budvar (1895-2015)”, published by: Budweiser Budvar, N.C. 2015).