Cafe Bajer, a trip through time.

Cafe Bajer on Trida Miru in Pardubice may look like it’s been there since the dawn of the 20th century, and that’s just what owner Milan Bajer wants you to believe when you step inside. The cafe has in fact been in business for just 15 years, although that’s a very impressive feat considering the musical chairs like activity that affects most high streets these days with businesses opening and closing within months.

Since 1998 Cafe Bajer has been a focal point of Pardubice’s Trida Miru where young and old alike go to catch up with friends and take it easy with a nice hot cup of coffee. There could be a group of students playing on their phones at one table, and the elderly owner of a nearby factory at another, all sitting together with the same plan, to relax.

Customers are spoiled for choice when it comes to where to sit, with no less than six distinct seating areas, all with their own different character. As you walk in from Trida Miru, you walk down a narrow passageway and are greeted by a number of antiques, bicycles and old coffee boxes. There’s a selection of tables running along one of the walls and a nice secluded raised seating area at the end. In the Summer months this makes for a fine hideout from the glaring sun.

When the weather takes a turn you can seek shelter in the conservatory area where you really get a sense of what this place is all about, an homage to coffee, the Austro-Hungarian empire and Art Nouveau and Art Deco stylings. Milan Bajer, the owner of Cafe Bajer who runs the business with his sons is a big antiques fan, as evidenced by the sheer amount of fascinating paraphernalia that dots every nook and cranny of the cafe.

There’s old coffee dispensers, storage boxes and posters as well as vintage cash registers, phones, clocks and ornaments. But they’re not just a random collection of forgotten treasures, or the kind of standardised “vintage” materials you see in so many so called retro pubs and cafes around the world. These are the genuine article, items from cafes that have long since gone out of business, many of them right here in Pardubice, others from businesses from all over the world.

Pardubice is well known for a number of products, perhaps most notably Semtex., the plastic explosive. It is also the site of a factory that plays a big part in the story of Cafe Bajer. What is now the Kávoviny factory near the train station used to be the site of the Franck coffee company which made substitutes for classic coffee. The best known was “Franck’s Genuine Coffee Supplement”, Franckovkafor short, which came in oval red packets or brown boxes. Under the name “Karo-Franck” it was sold in the form of cubes. Another favourite was a rye coffee called “Perola.

In the main seating area of Cafe Bajer you can see a lot of posters and artwork which are original advertising materials for these products. It’s really fascinating to know that what I thought were just random posters are in fact highly relevant to Pardubice and its past and indeed current industry.

With cafes popping up here there and everywhere these days, it’s refreshing to be able to sit down and relax in a place that has been around long enough to have a history all of its own, even though it may not be that old an establishment itself. The antiques and decor in Cafe Bajer tell a tale all of their own, a tale of coffee, industry and a more decadent time in our history, that with Milan’s help hopefully won’t be forgotten.

Trida Miru exterior
The exterior of Cafe Bajer on Trida Miru with the main entrance on the left. The door to the right goes into the newest part of the cafe, which used to be a florist.
Austrian Postal Shield
The Austrian Postal Shield. Cafes would have been close to or often included postal services back in the day.
Cake
Mmmm cake. A delicious selection of cakes are always available for hungry cafe goers.
Cash Register 2
An old cash register greets visitors as they come in to the conservatory from the cold.
Cash Register 3
An ornate beauty. This cash register came all the way from the United States.
Cash Register
An original National Cash Register product. Founded in 1884, you may recognise the NCR name from modern ATM machines and shopping centre checkouts today.
Coffee Boxes 2
Some original Franck Karo products on display in the replica shop in the newest part of the cafe.
Coffee Boxes
A selection of boxes, including Hašlerky, a hard sweet for the treatment of hoarseness and coughs.
Coffee Containers
Close-up detail of an old fashioned coffee dispenser.
Coffee Shop doll
The mannequin dressed up in traditional coffee shop attire keeps a watchful eye on visitors.
Coffee Shop mockup
The mock-up of an old fashioned coffee/grocery shop that used to have pride of place in the coffee museum in the nearby Chateau.
Conservatory 2
The quaint conservatory area complete with friendly parakeet.
Doll
Another mannequin adds to the air of authenticity.
Fish
The inquisitive fish in the bar area who follow each guest with intrigue.
Frames
Lots of fascinating antiques adorn the walls, including these ornate pipes, and a myriad of beautiful clocks and picture frames.
Franz Josef
A bust of Franz Josef, King of Movember.
Grinder
A vintage coffee grinder forms another part of this great homage to all things coffee.
Harp Sign
A poster for an art workshop. Must be Irish 🙂
Heater
I’d take this over a halogen heater any day. As I’ve said many a time on this blog, they just don’t make them like they used to.
Horns
It’s rare to hear instruments being played in a cafe these days but it was once a common sound in cafes throughout Europe. Bring them back I say.
Inner Cafe
The cozy bar area of Cafe Bajer where I often sit and unwind after a long day in work.
Lamp
Now THAT’S a light fixture.
Lutes
A violin, a lute and a mandolin walk into a bar….
Main Cafe
The main seating area overlooking Trida Miru, a great spot for a bit of people watching.
Mermaid
A twin tailed mermaid looks over the cafe, representing coffee’s strong ties with the ocean and freight.
Newspapers
Love these, newspaper holders for cafe goers to read their paper in comfort.
Painting
Moriz Jung’s 1911 painting takes pride of place in Cafe Bajer.
Phone
How many people in a few years won’t have a clue what this is?
Poster 2
The old posters adorning the walls are really cool, a great vintage style that you don’t see anymore.
Poster
Another original poster for Karo Franck products.
Signs
A wall of old signs next to the bar area.
Small Interior
Everywhere you look there’s something new to catch your eye. I’ve been there dozens of times and I always see something new each time.
Small Table
Pretty much everything in Cafe Bajer is an antique……except the sugar obviously.
Statue
A beautiful Art Nouveau wall decoration.
Usain Bolt Statue
Milan affectionately refers to this statue as the original Usain Bolt.
Window
Almost every inch of usable space is taken up with antiques, you could spend hours just looking around at all the pieces.
Milan and cash register
Milan Bajer, proud owner of Cafe Bajer.

There are in fact two Cafe Bajers in Pardubice. The main one on Trida Miru established in 1998 and the smaller but equally impressive and quaint cafe located under the Green Tower next to the old square. More on that in the next blog post including a hidden gem you’d never knew was there.


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