Jama celebrates 25 years

The downtown bar will be having a big party to mark a quarter century

The popular downtown bar and restaurant Jama celebrates its 25th anniversary March 16, with a big party starting at 6 pm.

People who remember when the bar was an important meeting spot for the expat community, before the days of the internet and mobile phones, are urged to stop by, as well as more recent expat and local fans.

“We are going to party! We have a lot of friends and regulars flying in from the States, England and Germany. The big celebration will be 25 years to the day since our original opening party,” Jama owner Max Munson said.

“I think all who arrive will have an especially good time,” he added.

The theme is Ladies and Gentlemen, and people are encouraged to dress smart.

There will be a small cover fee at the door, and free beer and wine from 6 pm to 8 pm.

Guests will receive anniversary souvenirs as gifts. There will be a charity blackjack table, two rock bands, an auction with bottles of whiskey, a guitar, and cases of beer to buy with “Jama Dollars,” plus a raffle followed by a DJ and dancing. Gentleman Jack, Johnny Walker Black and Lobkowicz are sponsors of the party.

One thing that has changed over the years is the composition of Jama’s customers. “We are now 75 percent Czech, and 25 percent expats and tourists. Czechs still prefer to sit at the tables, while the tourists and English speakers generally migrate to the bar. Jama is a place where both foreigners and Czechs feel comfortable and at home,” Munson said.

Jama itself has also grown over the years. “While the original vision has remained a constant, we have changed quite a bit. We have a new bar and back bar, new floor, hundreds of new framed posters, and over the years we’ve replaced just about every piece of equipment an average of three times,” he said.

The pub went no-smoking two years before the smoking ban, and that is just one of the big changes. “We got rid of the pinball machines and foosball in preference for more tables for seating. Our food menu has gotten much smaller, while our cocktail, rum and whiskey offerings have expanded hugely. Our foundation remains great American and Tex-Mex food with friendly and casual service in a fun and celebratory atmosphere,” he added.

Jama translates to “the Hollow,” which is fitting as it is a bit hidden on a side street, V Jámě. “We wanted something in the center, but off the beaten track. We wanted to build a brand based on locals, and for that, you do not need frontage with large amounts of walk-by traffic such as Wenceslas Square or Pařížská Street,” Munson said.

Over the past quarter century, a lot of places for local residents have come and gone or moved to new locations. Jama has managed to hang on at the same spot. “I would like to say how thrilled I am to have survived 25 years in the same location. We survived the financial crises, all the new and talented competition, staffing issues and changes to the local laws, etc., all throughout 25 years. I am grateful to all the regulars and friends over the years who have come and supported the place and helped so much to make it what it is today: A Prague institution,” he said.

For more information visit www.facebook.com/events

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