Prague is a very well-known tourist place that provides travellers tourists with a variety of choices when it comes to restaurants and eateries. From different ethnic cuisines to even American fast foods—KFC and McDonald’s are popular here—people from all over who come to visit Prague can still feel close to home when it comes to eating at a restaurant.
Adding itself to this list of ethnic cultural cuisine is the Australian family-pub that has been making a name for itself for three months now: The Down Under.
Bringing some of Australia to the city life, Ashley McGlynn—the Down Under founder—fell in love with hospitality at the age of 14, when he started working for his godfather at a restaurant back in Sydney. Although he held down odd jobs in his early years in Prague (i.e. English teaching, journalist, tour-guiding), Ashley never lost touch with his first love.
Ashley describes Australia as being a “mixed-bred” nation. “The bulk of the country is built on people who immigrated, who were running from something, escaping from or for something, or looking for something new,” he said. “You have Greek-Australians, Italian-Australians, Asian-Australians…[so many different mixed ethnicities]. That’s what Australia is.” This description of Australia, along with his own multiethnic background (Scottish, Hungarian, Irish, Austrian, English, Norwegian), allows Ashley to create Australian-styled meals but also include influences from other parts of the world. For instance, the dim sim dish is inspired by Asian cuisine dim sum. Moreover, the restaurant also includes a vegan and kid’s menu for those with dietary or age restrictions.
The Sydney-born restaurant owner travelled to Prague for the first time at 20 years old, when he was backpacking around Europe for about a year after completing his studies back home. Ashley fell in love with the Czech Republic’s capital.
“There was just something about Prague that really— I just felt comfortable [here]. It felt safe…still had that area of [post]communism, that gray blanket hanging over, which made Prague more authentic in 1998, to me,” Ashley said. He stayed in Prague for about a month before returning back to Australia.
It would be another 15 years before Ashley returned to Prague and permanently reside there. He met his wife, who is Czech, back in 2002 at a bar in Sydney, a moment that was “divine intervention.” They married four years later in the Czech Republic, returned to Australia for a little while, then finally decided to settle in Prague in 2013. Around this time in November, Ashley opened up The Pie Shop.
The pie shop story is quite a humorous one. After being out late and drunk one night with his father, they both were left craving pie (eating pie after getting drunk is common in Australia). However, they realized there was not any pie shops in Prague. This led Ashley to the idea of creating and opening up one here himself. And so it was, the Aussie Pie Shop was born and has been flourishing steadily ever since.
“Were very proud of what we created. It has gained and almost like following, especially in pubs…people telling others about our pies. It’s fantastic!”
Ashley explained further, the new home of the Pie Shop, The Down Under, was not as glamourous when he first saw it. “There had been no tenant for months, it smelt and was very dark.” However, it didn’t stop him and his partner from seeing what they could create, with a lot of confidence taken from the Pie Shop’s success.
The Pie Shop’s pie is more British in style, due to its delicious shortcrust pastry, and it buttery and delectable, unlike normal Australian pies that are made from puff pastry. In addition, the British market here in Prague is larger than Australian, nonetheless, the pies are still made in Australian style.
The Aussie Pie Shop may still be a small business but as Ashley stated himself, he is “hoping to expand it with bigger business ideas. There’s a different kind of energy here…[and] I want the pies to have a bigger, better home here, too.” In general, Ashley has been expanding his own business ideas, and the recent move to the bigger family-friendly venue of The Down Under works with the plan.
In this larger home, Ashley is trying to merge his bigger business plans and other things together into one restaurant or venue. The Down under also includes and super comfortable sports bar area, as Ashley is a bit sports-crazy himself, with the desire to create a new and unique sports bar atmosphere.
But the Down Under is more than just a home of pies and sports; it’s home for the whole family. This is why Ashley describes it as a family venue. With good food and sports to boot, the last piece in the family gigsaw is the massive kids corner, catering for mums and kids alike.
“I don’t want people to just come in and go. I want them to stay for three hours. Stay for coffee, breakfast, a few beers, eat in, etc. We’re not a hi-and-bye business. We’re a pub with good food, sports, and kids corner. I want people to be comfortable here. I don’t want bucks parties or groups of party people here. Although there’s great money in them, I believe I will do much better with this business,” Ashley stated.