Popular Bistro Praha co-owner, Sharka Svajgr has died of cancer. She was 53. The storied European and Czech restaurant, for more than 40 years a fixture downtown, will be a little less bright without her.
Stunning and stylish, with an enormous smile, Svajgr first started working at the restaurant as a teenager when it was in the Kelly Ramsay building on Rice Howard Way and owned by its founder, Frantisek Cikanek. There, she made cherished friends, eventually marrying a restaurant patron, Daniel Schultz.
Over the years, Svajgr came to embody the restaurant, along with her brother, Milan, also a server. After the Bistro burned down in 2009, Milan, Sharka, and Daniel joined forces with Milan’s partner, Alena Bacovsky, to buy the restaurant. It re-opened in the Empire building (10117 101 St.) in 2011, an event marked with champagne and toasts to the Bistro Praha’s cherished spot within Edmonton’s culinary scene.
Svajgr, who died Feb. 4, documented the stages of her illness on Facebook, and received love and support from a wide variety of friends, relatives and restaurant guests. Many of those people were at her funeral Tuesday at McDougall United, including musicians from the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra known to frequent the bistro. It was once one of the very few restaurants which stayed open late in Edmonton, making it the go-to for folks in the arts and entertainment community.
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