Name: Jaroslav Mestka
Title: Owner and lover of sweet things
Business: The Praguery
What do you do and how did you get here?
The Praguery began in the summer of 2016 as a little 10 x 10 stall at the Panda Market in Richmond followed by an appearance at the Christmas Market in Vancouver. A year later, we bought a food truck and added ice cream to the menu. The impact was sudden, with record sales during the summer of 2017. The cones were a huge hit and the drive was on to grow the business. In 2018 we bought an additional, much larger truck to handle the increased higher volume and to primarily do larger catered events, as well as continually operating the smaller truck at other events.
In the late summer of 2019, we opened our first brick & mortar shop here on Abbott Street and I am very happy in Gastown and being part of the vibrant community on this street.
Where did the idea for all this deliciousness come from?
My previous career was in the automotive industry as a technician working for BMW Vancouver. Despite my interest in cars, I have always wanted to work in the food industry, and given the fact that I have a big sweet tooth, it was only a matter of time before I committed to going all in with The Praguery. I first thought about making pancakes with some sort of a twist but that idea changed when I went back to Prague in 2015. In the Old Square, I devoured a few different chimney cakes or Trdelník from the local vendors, and memories of childhood came flooding back. The simplicity of the pastry, warm and soft, like pulling at fine gossamer sprinkled in cinnamon sugar. Steam rising from the cone opening, escaping out into the cold winter air. Lemon notes embraced with butter, melting on the tongue, chased by hot tea. It was an experience I could not seem to replicate in Vancouver, and one that I felt passionate about sharing with others on the West Coast. I quit my job at BMW and started experimenting with a few different recipes for the dough. I eventually got it right and felt confident to start selling the treat from our stall at the market. The rest is history I suppose and it’s hard to believe we have come this far in only a few years.
Why are they called Chimney Cakes?
When we pull the baked cake from the oven, piping hot steam rises out the top of something that closely resembles a funneled chimney – just like you might find on an old steam driven locomotive. Chimney cakes are baked fresh for about 6 minutes and never fried or pre-made.
Why pick Gastown for your first shop?
I live in Vancouver but my heart is in Prague. I was born and raised in Prague and I don’t get home as much as I would like. Gastown reminds me a lot of Europe with its century old buildings, fairy lights, and an old world charm that you can’t find anywhere else in Vancouver. Gastown was always my first choice as a location for our first shop, and I feel The Praguery fits in here just perfectly.
What makes chimney cakes taste so damn good?
We make almost everything fresh and in house. The dough is made with six simple ingredients, all of our sauces are fresh, and of course the cakes are baked to order while you wait.
What’s your favourite chimney cake?
Coconut with nutella.
Anything exciting coming up for The Praguery?
Totally! We will be parked at the Stanley Park Ghost Train during the Halloween season, and look out for us at many of the upcoming big outdoor Christmas events in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. There will be special seasonal flavours on offer along with some sweet spooky surprises!
The Praguery is located at 221 Abbott St.
Tuesday – Thursday 12 pm – 8 pm
Friday – Saturday 12pm – 9 pm
Sunday 12 pm – 8 pm