‘Milk bars’ are associated with communist times, but in fact the first milk bar was opened in Warsaw as far back as 1896. The idea of a low-priced place that serves vegetarian cuisine became popular all over Poland in the twenties and at the time of the Great Depression. Initially, the authorities regulated the price of food to make it available for the poorest, but after 1989 the government withdrew funding and milk bars began to disappear. The famous Prasowy was located on Marszałkowska street. After closing, it was almost impossible to find a cheap place to eat. One month later, a group of Prasowy ‘defenders’ broke into the building of the former milk bar and, for one evening, transformed it back into an eatery. The protesters served each other traditional Polish dumplings stuffed with lentils whilst encouraging people to sign a petition to the local authorities. This forced the city to open talks with the protesters which resulted in a competition for ownership of the milk bar. The winner of contest was Kamil Hegemajer, owner of milk bar chain, Mleczanie Jerozolimskie, and ‘milk bar king’. The re-opening exceeded everybody’s expectations. At present, Prasowy is visited by more than 600 people daily with each person spending an average of PLN 10. The Prasowy phenomenon is its feeling of residing in a social utopia. People sit next to each other while munching on the same potato dumplings for PLN 6 or tomato soup for PLN 1.50, people who are rarely seen together usually: senior citizens, celebrities, corporate suits, social activists, students, kids, hipsters, the homeless, the jobless, elegant financiers, outspoken feminists, labourers and geeks.
- The Milk Bar – Farewell to an Australian Icon (wheresthedrama.wordpress.com)
- The influence of Greek cafes and milk bars (blogs.abc.net.au)