Over summer Gazeta Wyborcza published a list of ‘bars that changed Warsaw’. I don’t remember it offhand, but it was a pretty on-point collection of revolutionary haunts: Charlotte, Między Nami, Chłodna, etc. In that number, I remain pretty certain Przekąski Zakąski were in there as well – and why wouldn’t they be. Opened in 2006 (doesn’t it feel longer?), this was the original shot bar – it all started here.
The concept was simple: standing room only, round-the-clock hours and beers and shots at four zlots per pop – not to mention stomach lining booze bites for double that price. It became a cult. Then, inexplicably, it closed its doors in August of this year. The news hit the city’s night owls like a hook to the chin. The shock though, was short lived. Having moved into new quarters on Widok, the boys are back in town… or at least, some of them are. Conspicuous by his absence is Pan Roman. The stone faced, bow-tied guardian of PK has struck out solo and will be opening his own bar anytime soon. Yet this isn’t the only change. The old venture was steamy, chattery and thickly coated in a bawdy atmosphere through all hours of the day. The re-release is anything but. Immediately, you notice something isn’t quite right.
In part, that’s down to a floor plan far larger than the fishbowl of old. Instead of rubbing shoulders and sharing banter with complete, random strangers, customers sit obediently at white-clothed tables. Hell, there’s even table service. From the main room, a network of chambers spread forth, varying in size but not in design: it’s all monochrome floors and cutlery decked tables. You could be anywhere. Granted, the outdoor marquee is more in line with the original version (cheap beer and snacks), but it feels a bit seedy, like one to avoid. Late at night, you almost expect to see trouble from the local yahoos. The sheer size of it all suggests the owner certainly envisages success. Will he get it? I get the impression that by trying to finesse the original, he’s overstepped a boundary and complicated a concept that was honest and true. Judging by the empty seats, I’m not the only one. But these are early days, and in the shape of 24hr open times and a central location, PK have a lifeline of sorts. (AW)