The Disappearing Pubs of Czech Villages: A Catastrophic Situation

The situation surrounding pubs in Czech villages can be described as catastrophic. Over the past four years, more than 1,300 pubs have disappeared, almost fifteen percent of the original number. Last year alone, over 250 rural pubs closed down, according to data from Plzeňský Prazdroj, which classifies villages with less than 5,000 inhabitants as rural communities.

While there were 8,929 pubs in March 2019, this number has decreased to 7,604 this year. The number of facilities nationwide has also decreased from 25,404 to 22,344. These figures include only pubs and restaurants, not cafés or bistros.

The reasons for the decline in rural pubs are manifold. “The significant rise in input prices is hitting the gastronomy sector hard,” said Tomáš Mráz, Plzeňský Prazdroj’s commercial director. “Especially pubs in rural areas have to carefully consider end prices for consumers, as they are susceptible to any increase.”

At the same time, many people in villages and smaller towns have turned to drink beer in the comfort of their own homes, for example, in garages or gardens. “Rural pub owners are having difficulty attracting new customers,” Mráz added.

Luboš Kastner of the Association of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises and Entrepreneurs of the Czech Republic echoed this sentiment. Over Easter this year, restaurant attendance decreased by twelve percent compared to the previous year. “Nominal revenues in rural pubs fell by more than eight percent compared to 2019, despite a 34 percent increase in attendance,” Kastner calculated. “The business in rural areas is declining. People don’t go to the pub, they drink at home, and local restaurants are collapsing.”

According to Kastner, the only ones whose revenues are increasing are Prague’s restaurants and pubs, with a 36 percent revenue increase. “In regional capitals, revenues are up 22 percent. With a 34 percent increase in input prices, there is a real decline of 12 percent. The further away you get from Prague, the worse the business becomes,” he added.

The situation is unlikely to improve, as rural pub owners cannot attract new customers, and existing ones are shifting towards at-home drinking. With the closure of many rural pubs, it’s also becoming harder for people living in remote areas to find a nearby social hub. This may contribute to further migration from rural to urban areas for socialization opportunities.