UConn alum finds entrepreneurship in Prague

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A major goal for many people is to achieve comfort in life. To reach this goal, some may go to extreme lengths to be the best at school or to pursue a high-paying career. For Glenn Spicker, this was not the dream life.  

During his college years, Spicker went through many changes. He first started his studies at the University of Vermont, following his desire to play Division I soccer. Two years later, he transferred to the University of Connecticut, but instead of going back to Storrs, he ended up in England.  

“I end up going to school for one year in England, so I think it’s funny because when I end up at UConn, I was already a senior,” Spicker said. 

When he got back from England, Spicker’s first weeks at UConn were frustrating for him.  

“I have already been to UVM where the drinking age was 18. In Europe, there’s no drinking age,” Spicker said. “And then I got back to UConn where they raised up the drinking age to 21 and I’m like, ‘I’m [a] senior living in a dormitory, and I can’t have a beer.’” 

Aside from his alcohol-related frustrations, Spicker eventually made long-time friends at UConn, including Douglas M. Crowe. When Spicker and his friends graduated, his only wish was to travel again.  

“Let’s travel on our bicycles in Europe,” he told them. “Let’s find jobs, see what we can see.”  

And he did. Spicker went to Europe for three months with a friend from high school and met his college friend Crowe again in 1988 in Chamonix, France. They climbed Mont Blanc together, but after that, Spicker wanted to go back to Heidelberg, Germany, where he could work for the University of Boston and pursue his master’s degree for free. He and Crowe lived in Heidelberg for a while, witnessing the revolutions in the East.  

At the time, the Cold War was raging, and Germany was still divided in different occupation zones, separating the Allies and the Soviets. Then in November 1989, Spicker witnessed the Berlin Wall go down.  

“I went up to the Berlin Wall with Crowe and knocked tips at the wall,” Spicker said. “I still got a piece of [it].” 

It was from there that his journey started.  

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After the wall came down, Spicker’s desire to discover the East countries grew. That’s when he discovered Prague, his new home.  

Going to Prague was easy at the time because Americans didn’t need visas. Spicker and his friends went only with the intention of paying a visit. Instead, he ended up falling in love with the country. 

“We took one trip,” Spicker said. “And it was cheap, and the people were great, and the girls were beautiful and I just thought this is the land of opportunities.” 

Spicker began his long journey of entrepreneurship by opening his first restaurant in Prague. 

“I was going to open a bagel store, but I end[ed] up opening a restaurant called Red Hot and Blues,” Spicker said. “And then I opened Bohemian Bagel here and basically I had about one business per year for 30 years.” 

Besides those two places, Spicker opened a fast food restaurant called Burrito Loco that has 12 locations. Then he opened a jazz bar called At Little Glenn’s, and founded The Museum of Communism.  

“My entrepreneurship is kind of all over the city,” Spicker said. “You look for opportunities, and you put in some hard work and you meet people.” 

Spicker’s father, a former professor at UConn, actually wanted him to pursue a Ph.D., but Spicker wasn’t interested.  

“I was never that academic, but you know, because of my dad and my mom, who is also a teacher, I just figured I’d go as far as I could,” Spicker said.  

However, an entrepreneurial spirit was always hidden within himself. As a kid, Spicker was always selling lemonade on the corner, or buying things that he would sell for more money to other people. He never realized it while in college because nobody around him was an entrepreneur.  

“I grew up with doctors, lawyers,” Spicker said. “I did not know about marketing, creative people or people who started their own businesses. So I never caught the bug, the fever of that entrepreneurial spirit.” 

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Even if he was not the best student, Spicker does not regret his liberal education. Being a student at UConn indirectly nurtured his entrepreneurial life. His college experience gave him critical thinking skills and taught him to understand how things happen logically and why.  

“Education teaches you that if you want to do a restaurant, you got to have a plan, you got to write down your numbers, you got to communicate and you must understand things,” Spicker said. 

Being an entrepreneur is also rewarding for him.  

“For me to come up with a concept, find a location, I get really excited about it,” Spicker said.  

However, being a young man in a country of opportunities is what mainly drove him to his projects. 

When he was younger, Spicker just wanted to be an athlete and didn’t think he would end up with so many businesses in Prague. His father warned him about owning restaurants. 

“Do you know how to make a small portion in the restaurant business?” Spicker’s father would joke. “You start with a large portion.”  

In other words, to make money in the restaurant business, you have to start with a lot — and be ready to lose it. 

“He’s right,” Spicker said. “It’s a really hard business to make money in but I like people, and I like this kind of thing.” 

What keeps Spicker immersed in his business is his passion and success. Being an entrepreneur taught him that the world could fall apart in a second, but it’s also important to spare being impulsive.  

His advice for students who are interested in entrepreneurship: Talk to people and listen.  

“You might be successful the first time but then you fail the other time, and you go back to where you were at the beginning,” Spicker said. “You have to eliminate risks. Be patient and that’s when you’ll make better decisions and better money.”