You've opened bars in Belarus, Ukraine, and Poland. How's the bar scene different across these countries?
The difference is huge! The bureaucratic hurdles, the chaos, and all the stress in Belarus before the elections, plus Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine, there's just nothing like it anywhere else. We rented premises while we were still dealing with paperwork and construction. And the process was long and painful that we’ve lost plenty of money for rent thanks to state bureaucracy. Maybe we were a bit green at the time, but dealing with the state agencies is just a whole different kind of headache.
In Ukraine before the war, things were way smoother. Everything is designed for the business to fit into the business structure quickly and easily. It was simpler and felt cheaper since all the processes took way less time. You just pay money and boom, things get moving, no waiting around.
Kyiv's a powerhouse. There's fierce competition on all fronts. It's all about who's got the slickest concept and execution. Sometimes it even gets a bit absurd. You've heard about those "contract" police raids, right? It’s when a business kind of “hires” police to prosecute a competitor’s business. Total mess, I would say. I'm hoping things will improve after the war, especially in that regard. All my Ukrainian pals admit there’s such a flaw.
As for Poland, people here are much less motivated, the competition's not as cutthroat, and everyone's more chill. You won't solve anything at 4 PM on a Friday until Monday.
Right now, we're kind of in our own emigrant bubble. We're not really in direct competition with anyone but rather got our own corner. That doesn't mean we don't welcome locals or Western Europeans. But for now, we exist a bit apart from the local industry, let's say. Slowly and quietly trying to blend in.
In Kyiv, things moved quickly. We had no language barrier back then, no major cultural gaps, just little differences – like the extent of freedom and willingness to express opinions openly.
When it comes to bar culture, we're tryna break free from the norm. We're all about the experience, the process rather than product. I mean, we can sell one type of beer and a gin and tonic, and that’s it. That means, I want my bar culture to be about culture first, and then the bar.