Tartu residents, rejoice: Zavood is not going anywhere.
Tartu is a campus town, so for a community of a hundred thousand it has a massive amount of pubs, most of them congregating within a reasonable stumbling radius of the University main building and the central dorms. A lot of these pubs come and go, but some are permanent fixtures - and the most legendary of Tartu booze houses is Zavood.
Its main virtue is opening hours: Zavood stays open until four AM, long after most of the rest, and even after the clubs have shut for the night. Once the main entertainment is concluded, those with a high alcohol blood content drift towards Zavood, a few rooms in a semi-basement down an alley just outside the Old Town. There are other late-night haunts in the city, but Krooks is a metal pub with its own specific audience, and Half Six is not bohemian enough. Zavood has no pretensions, not even a theme as such: it is the quintessential student pub. Loud, relatively cheap, and very seedy. Also very full. Tartu is not that small, but if you've lived here for a few years, you know that on any given night you can show up at Zavood around 1 am and see someone you know - probably on their fourth pint of cheap lager.
Zavood seems functionally immortal. All Tartu pubs suffered a great blow when the EU smoking ban came into force, but Zavood somehow just made it work: on a really good night the inside is likely to be reduced to a steady stream of customers picking up their glasses, while most of the socializing happens in the alley outside, conveniently equipped with concrete bannisters on which you can leave your drink.
It is this aspect of Zavood that irritates the owners of the building, a student fraternity. The Zavood mob, while mostly friendly, can get unruly; some of the other tennants complained, and the fraternity tried to pull the lease. It looked like the legendary pub would have to close up after August - or at least move.
Now, it seems that Zavood's Italian owner has made his arguments stick in court; the fraternity's decision to kick them out came after the new lease had been sent off for signing, so according to Zavood, the extension till 2011 is binding. There's some legal hustle related to whose signature was on which paper when, but the preliminary ruling seems to have been favourable towards the pub, so it looks like the Tartu fixture will stay.
See you there.
4 weeks ago