Countless coffees have been drunk, words written and ideas debated in the Globe, Prague's famous English-language bookstore and cafe. Literati like Alan Ginsberg and Ludvik Vaculik have read there, and it's has become internationally known as a meeting place for backpackers and locals alike.
Just shy of two months ago the Globe came under new ownership after an era of financial struggle. On Thursday new owners Prague-based Michael Cella and Moscow-based Michael Sito threw a party to celebrate the beginning of what they hope will be a vibrant new chapter in the establishment's history.
Sito intends to recapture the magic that made him fall in love with the Globe when he first came as a backpacker twelve years ago.
"We had a feeling it lost its original vibe and we decided to try to reinvent it a little bit and bring back its original mojo," Sito said. "Now we're trying to reintroduce it to the community because I think there are a lot of people who have stopped coming here over the last few years and we want to show them that there's a new Globe even though it's still very close to its core values and feeling."
In 1993 the Globe was founded by five American ex-pats in the Holesovice district of Prague. Six years ago, the institution was re-located to its new home in a 113-year old building on Pstrossova Street in Prague 1.
Sito acknowledges the challenge of preserving the historical mission of the Globe while updating its vibe.
"We're just trying to get it back to what it originally was—a great meeting spot for people, a place with good books to pick up, one of the best inventories, I hope, in Prague," he said. "We are trying to make it one of the best English language bookshops in Eastern Europe. And now we're just trying to broaden it out a little bit."
To cultivate a new atmosphere and re-establish the Globe as a Prague hotspot, the owners are refurbishing the bookstore, updating the menu, and regularly hosting live music, literary events and art exhibitions. The new owners have given the split-level café a new look--the walls are painted a rich red and decorated with paintings by Polish painter Roman Zakzewski. And people have already noticed a change.
Jitka Dedicova has lived with her boyfriend next door to the Globe for three years. She said stopped going to the café for awhile, but has recently started dropping by about two times per week.
"I love the new decorations, I love the new paintings, I love the atmosphere here; it's so much better than before," Dedicova said. "It feels more friendly and more homey and customer-friendly, basically. Before, it was like we used to come here virtually every day but after awhile the ex-owner didn't even talk to us or acknowledge us or anything. I still don't know the new owner, but even though we don't know the new owner, we feel more welcome here."
During Thursday's party, the Globe threw open its doors to welcome the public. The waitstaff cut through the thick crowd, offering complimentary hors-deouerves and beverages. Out-of-town guests and locals occupied every inch of the confetti strewn floor.
Olga Zahorbenska stopped by with a friend to toast an institution that's held a place in her heart for some years.
"I used to go the very first Globe in Holesovice. And then I used to come here. I'm Czech and I've been living in Prague, but I also used to go the States so I used to come here when I missed brunch or eggs or whatever," she said. "So I used to come here for a good omelet. And I used to come here to get books too. So I'm glad it's still going on and I'm looking forward to the new era, and we'll see how it will be."