Central Plaza - a brief history

Patrick Fisher, pfisher@newpraguetimes.com

Friday, June 9, there will be a grand opening celebration for Central Plaza at the northwest corner of the intersection of N Central Avenue and Main Street. The program begins at 1 p.m. and will include a ribbon cuttingceremony and remarks about creating Central Plaza.

Central Plaza was created through a cooperative effort between the city of New Prague, the Rotary Club of New Prague and several residents, including Dr. Michael and Kay Wilcox of New Prague who donated the property. Central Plaza’s purpose is to be a place where residents can gather for lunch, an evening meal and, eventually, a spot for music and public art.

For those who remember, it was an empty lot for a few years after a fire destroyed a building on the site about a decade ago. Lost was a restaurant on the main floor a few apartments on the second level. Thankfully, there were no serious injuries when the fire happened.

Other memories

Also lost when the building was demolished was a mural of one of New Prague’s founders, Anton Philipp. A native German, he was one of the first settlers to the area and welcomed other settlers, especially those from what is now the Czech Republic.

My memory of that mural is of Anton Philipp staring out from the side of the building along N Central Avenue. If I remember right, he appeared quite debonair with a handlebar mustache.

The main floor had been a restaurant for years, although more than one restaurant operated there. When I first moved to town in 1999, the restaurant was called Papa Bear's and served soups, sandwiches and desserts. There was once or twice where the owners did a pasta night. It offered several pastas, sauces and toppings ranging from vegetables to meatballs and topping it off with one or two different types of cheeses.

For me, it was a good stop to take lunch or come for dinner as it was within walking distance of where I live. It had several tables set around the space and a bar area. I would usually take a seat at the bar, I’ve always figured one person doesn’t need to take a table four people could use.

It changed hands at least two mores times before the fire destroyed the building.

From what I understand, before it became a restaurant, it was several types of shops.

After the fire, the spot didn’t get used much accept around Dozinky, New Prague’s Czech Harvest Festival. One local business used the area closest to the street corner for selling pizzas. Sometimes, a vendor sold sandwiches or ice cream while utilizing the area.

Central Plaza

When I first heard the ideas for the site to become Central Plaza, I actually liked the idea. To me, an area where a person can go and enjoy the shade or the sun on a summer day is appealing. It also adds a little greenery to Main Street.

To be honest, it’s one thing I’ve always liked about Minnesota that it tries to have green spaces such as parks or plazas. Even going up into the Twin Cities Metro Area, there are green spaces along the highways and several of the main areas of traffic. I’ve always thought it looks better than having it made out of nothing but concrete or cement.

Here’s hoping Central Plaza becomes a great spot for people to meet and perhaps the occasional evening or weekend afternoon concert



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