The Twelve O’Clock Question

In Czechs on October 30, 2007 by Petr Bokuvka

One of the things that many foreign top managers are surprised about [they mention it when I talk to them] is how Czech offices or firms literally become deserted around noon. It takes a while for a foreigner to find out that the reason is called lunch menu.

So if a Czech colleague asks another co-worker Jdes s nama na menicko? he means Are you gonna join us for a lunch menu?

Lunch menu is a special offer that literally almost all restaurants have between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. It usually includes one kind of soup that the waiter brings without asking. Upon bringing the soup he or she asks “what number” which means what number of a menu the guests will have. Normally restaurants have three to four. The place that is just next door from my office has only two to choose from, usually one for people who are more vegetable lovers and one for people who must consume something that was booing and breathing a while ago…

And yes, let’s not forget that we all have lunch coupons that we like to use to pay for lunch menus. Lunch coupons are a special kind of employee benefit. You get twenty seventy-crown coupons and the employer deducts 50 percent of their value from your paycheck.

The only thing I hate about lunch menu lunches is that people are usually ruder than in a “normal” restaurant and they would join you at your table without asking politely. I once ate lunch with a close friend of mine at a table for four. These two men came asking whether they could join us. I didn’t want to have a private conversation with two total strangers sitting one meter from me so I told them no. One of the guys was pretty rude. Obviously he thought that people are not entitled to privacy between 11 and 2.

But then again, if you want to have a two-course lunch with five-minute waiting time, there is nothing better. Deliveries are usually twice as expensive. And you have to eat while others work. Not the most comfortable thing…


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