Our Prague food tours are sometimes tough. For instance, we were getting lots of visitors with Czech heritage from Texas, and they kept asking us where they could get the best kolachees in Prague. There was always an awkward pause and lots of hesitation. You see, we could not think of a place that would sell kolachees, yeast dough treats with various sweet fillings, the way we knew them from our family gatherings, the proper kolachees. And then Simply good opened. This little bakery in the Karlin district sold yeast dough kolachees, frgale, cakes with streusel and such so good we could not believe they were not done by Zuzi’s grandma in the Slovacko region of Moravia where Zuzi is from. No wonder they often run out of products early into the day as people from the surrounding offices flock by to sweeten their lives just a bit with something that tastes truly home-made.
The heart and the soul of the establishment is Hanka, the lovely owner. Always busy but with a smile on her face, Hanka is really proud of what she does - and still retains a truly hands-on approach. She has no problem naming her favorite things in the shop and the story behind them. What we love about Hanka is her life philosophy: although she must have faced some challenges transitioning from her previous job to the career of a pro baker, she always looks at the bright side of life. Things will simply work out. It was a pleasure to stop by the shop and ask a few questions.
How did your love of baking come along?
I grew up around baking. My family comes from the Slovacko region of Moravia, a village called Horni Nemci […and this is where Zuzi and Jan look at each other and start to laugh: you see, Zuzi comes from the neighboring village of Dolni Nemci] and everybody in my family used to bake. Even my father would bake a thing or two. I have two sisters and we are all good at something else: one of my sisters is great at layer cakes; my forte is the yeast dough. So baking was always a part of my life.
You lead a corporate life before Simply good. Was the transition difficult?
I worked at an agency focusing at incentive tourism. I felt burnt out and looked for other things to do. The idea had been growing inside of me for a long time so when I made the final decision to switch, it was actually easy. Of course, my family and some of my friends were against it. They are very risk-averse. They thought I should stick to what worked just fine before. But my heart was not in it and I decided to move on.
What would you recommend to people who want to take a similar path?
Don’t be afraid. When you do something you love, you should trust your instincts and go with them. When you are ready, things will move in the right direction. For instance, when the Dlouha space did not work out, I found the Karlin space the very same day. Also, when I searched for an investor when I started, I found one when I was really ready to move ahead. But what is most important is picking the right people. I have been so lucky to be surrounded by great people around me, and I am truly proud of our team here.
Why did you choose Karlin for the shop?
Because I liked the ambience of that re-born district. And also to save time - I live in Prague 9 and our bakery is located there as well, so I looked for something nearby. For a certain period I was considering to open in the Divadlo v Dlouhe passage right next to the Sisters deli and Nase maso butcher shop, but that did not work out. Then I found out that the Prague 8 city district was offering this shop for rent, so I went ahead and bid for it. The rest is history. Actually, the original plan was to open a shop with a bakery, but in the end we took the route of a separate bakery and shop.
Of all the things that you sell in the shop, what is your favorite?
I must say the poppy seed roll. I love the one that they make at the small bakery at the Berlin main train station, and I think that ours is as good as that one. In general, everybody loves French baking but I have always been partial to German baking, and their baking tradition is more similar to ours.
Do you have any guilty pleasures?
That would be bacon and mayonnaise. I actually have a favorite dish that incorporates both: you fry bacon and red onions, and put both in a baguette with mayonnaise and watercress. Delicious. It might eventually end up in the shop - or something along those lines. I do want to make more savory things this year, actually.
A thing that not many people know about you?
I love psychotherapy and helping people with their challenges. I am actually writing a book about my personal path and transition from my previous job to this one that should inspire other to move on with their lives. I would like to dedicate more time to it in the future. I think I am a good listener and can give good advice to people.
Thank you, Hanka, for talking to us. Time flies when we sit here and talk to you. And now, the poppy seed roll, you said?
Photos by Couple of Prague.