We are sitting at the back of Cheers pub and Franco, the owner, is laughing about a recent review of his pub on TripAdvisor, where someone has said it’s so strange to find an Irish bar in Italy serving such good Czech beer.
“You can’t find a friendlier place in Milan.”
This comment seems to sum up Cheers Pub. On first glance it seems a mad combination of themes, identities and nationalities but when you scratch the surface a little deeper the idea starts to make some sort of sense.
“Our concept was to create an Irish pub”, explains Franco, “but not the clichéd obvious kind, but more to capture the true culture of Ireland – the warmth, the welcoming atmosphere and the sense that you’ll always find someone you want to talk to inside. And then layered on top of that is our commitment to quality – we want to bring our customers the best of everything, whether that’s beer, food or hospitality.
I was born in Milan and worked in the pub industry for a big corporation before. But in 2010 I made the big decision to start out on my own. It was a struggle – money was always tight – but we worked hard. At the start we had only Irish beers on draught but when we expanded into the vacant wine shop next door, I decided I wanted something different; something my customers couldn’t get anywhere else.
I chose Pilsner Urquell tank beer because of the quality and reputation – it’s an important beer and the original lager! You can literally taste the difference on the first sip. That was something I wanted to bring to Italians, so we became the first tank bar in Italy.
It was a big decision for us. The tanks themselves take up a bit of space – space we could have fitted more customers in – but actually it turned out those tanks attracted more customers by themselves anyway. It’s been a very successful decision.
I still work incredibly hard every day but we’ve built up a reputation now. People trust me, especially when I recommend and talk about the beer. I always introduce Pilsner Urquell to new customers and now I get people ordering a Mliko. I don’t sell bottled beer anymore either, and I only sell one kind of red and white wine, as I want people to see I’m about quality, about beer and that I trust in Tankovna.
It says something about this bar and the beer that normally an Italian drinker will sit and sip one beer all night. But in this pub 90% of our customers drink more now – they love it. This area, Lambrate, is very residential, but has built up a reputation for beer – and although we were one of the last to open we are now one of the top five places people come to.
My wife Sonia and I have been to Czech twice. We love to travel and getting to know new cultures and new ideas. She picks the city and I go to run! I have run 12 marathons in total, including the Prague marathon, which was amazing because I got to drink some great beer after the race.”