Keeping your tab

Running tab on slip of paper with beer & wine © Ricky Yates

One thing that I have increasingly realized living in Prague, is that most Czech people do not expect non-Czechs to necessarily be able to speak their language – many of them recognize what a difficult language it is to learn! But what Czech people do expect is that foreigners should understand, respect and follow their cultural manners and practices.

I have previously written a post entitled ‘Eating and drinking in a Czech Bar-Restaurant’, explaining what to expect in contrast to the UK and elsewhere. In this post, I’m going to expand and illustrate a practice I mentioned briefly in that previous post – something that is quite commonplace in many bar-restaurants throughout the Czech Republic.

When your first drinks order has been delivered to your table, the person doing so will produce a slip of paper, mark it accordingly, and leave it on your table. If you have only ordered normal 0.5 litre glasses of beer, then a simple mark will be placed at the bottom of the slip, one for each beer that has been ordered. If you order small 0.3 litre glasses of beer, then a cross for each one will be put there instead.

If after the drinks have arrived, you then also order food, then the cost of each dish is recorded on the top part of the slip. The slip in this first photo shows that we ordered one main dish for 137 Kc with a side dish for 35 Kc, together with a second main dish for 99 Kc with a side dish for 35 Kc. By the time I took this photo, I was on my second glass of beer. On this occasion, Sybille was drinking wine and was on her second glass, each of which cost 30 Kc.

At the end of the evening when you are ready to leave, saying “Zaplatim prosim” – “May I pay please”, will bring the waiter/waitress to the table to add up your tab. Below is ours from this occasion, duly totted up – the extra 45 Kc was a digestif slivovice. The total bill of 463 Kc translates to around £16.00, a reminder of how ridiculously cheap eating out can be here in the Prague suburbs. But don’t expect a printed receipt – this simple paper slip is all you’ll get!

The tab totted up © Ricky Yates

5 comments to Keeping your tab

  • Lea Williams

    Great post Ricky, but it does make me crave being back in the Czech Republic! One of the joys of heading over to Olomouc is the fact that we can have a lovely meal out with drinks for less that the price of Pizza Hut. On my first visit to the Czech Republic (2008) we managed to get four meals and drinks at a village pub for about £12!

    I think that you are right about many Czech people not expecting foreigners to speak their language – Petra’s uncle couldn’t understand why I was bothering to learn as he thought it is useless! I suppose it depends who you are speaking to and there is probably a difference between large towns and villages. Petra also agrees with you regarding cultural practices (taking your shoes off when entering a home and for it to be rude if you don’t eat and drink our own body weight when just visiting a friend or relative for a short time!)

    Thank you for publishing your thoughts Ricky – we always look forward to reading your blog. Sorry that we haven’t made it over to St Clements yet (although we did listen to the special radio service). Maybe this summer…?

    Best wishes to you and Sybille,

  • Ricky

    Hi Lea,
    How nice to have you leaving a comment for the first time! Don’t let it be the last. 🙂

    As I’ve previously blogged, being able to ‘eat out’ for such reasonable prices in the Czech Republic, is a real joy. However, as I’m sure you’re aware, the exchange rate for Brits is not as good as it was when you first visited in 2008. It was probably around 36 Kc to the £ then whereas it is currently around 28.50 Kc at the present time.

    It is reassuring to hear that Petra agrees with my assessment of Czech people regarding observing cultural norms as being far more important than trying to learn the language. The attitude of Petra’s uncle is quite typical. After all, who else speaks or understands Czech except 10.3 million Czechs & a further 5 million Slovaks. But against that, if I have chosen to live here, I do feel I should at least make an effort with the language and there are many Czech people who do appreciate it if I do.

    Would love to see you at St. Clements in the summer & very glad you got to hear our broadcast service. If you ever want to listen to it again, you can do so via as it is now uploaded there.

    So glad you both enjoy the blog & trust that ‘Flump’ continues to do well!

  • Hi Ricky:

    Man, that was a dirty trick. Its friday and am cruising around the web and stumbled across your glass of beer picture there and got very thirsty. Unfortunately, hours away from being able to enjoy that.

    Interesting concept with the tab on the napkin. My daughter is a waitress here in the states so I think I will mention it to her. She will probably think I’m nuts.


  • Sean

    Hi Ricky,
    Not only do some restaurants charge an exorbitant fee for losing the piece of paper (CZK 500 is common), but for some really Czech pubs it is not even the prices in the upper part, e.g. P – II means two portions of side dish (priloha), k – I means 1 chicken meal (kure), S – II means two sodas. When men go have a few beers, the lines at the bottom of the tab are referred to as blades of grass in the phrase, ‘It is time to cut the grass’ – time to pay the bill.
    I am glad to see your waiters are kind enough to use numbers:-)
    All the best,

    • Ricky

      Hi Sean.
      Thanks for leaving a comment & giving some further information about this Czech practise. I love ‘cutting the grass’ 🙂