My current life circles around Cechownia

Agata Rakotny

A conversation with Agata Rakotny – manager of Cechownia Restaurant in Gliwice, president of the New Cechownia Association, nominated for the title of Charismatic Woman. Cechownia was awarded the title of The Best & More 2023 as a recognised promoter of culture and art, and extensive social activist.

Did you manifest charismatic qualities as a child?

In fact, I never felt that I was particularly charismatic, although in fact I had always been active in class and school councils since elementary school. I was interested in music since childhood, I took piano lessons at a music centre for two years, but I didn’t enjoy the tedious practising of etudes and easily got impatient. I dreamt of playing the guitar. I learned a few chords, and I can tune it by ear on empty strings. I had a lot of musician friends, I used to go to their neighbourhood band rehearsals, then to concerts. I always felt I wanted to participate in music in an active way, and I found my way: I operate the stage lighting during concerts at the Cechownia. I like to get to know the songs well beforehand, in order to accordingly prepare the light show. It makes me feel like I’m playing a bit with the band .

Did you educate yourself in this direction?

No, I learned everything through frequent exposure to the musical environment. I originally wanted to study psychology, but my mother and grandmother successfully dissuaded me from doing so. They considered psychology unviable, but I don’t really know the reason why. So, I studied management, organisation and marketing at the Silesian University of Technology. Then I went to the USA for a year as part of the Au Pair in America programme, lived in Boston, where I looked after two children. It was a fantastic experience, I gained language skills simultaneously soaking up the Boston music scene and going to concerts everyday – that’s how I spent all the money I earned there, i.e. on concerts and records. When I came back to Poland, I got involved in translations, returned to university studies in media, culture and translation at the University of Silesia. Then I also studied English philology at the Polonia Academy in Częstochowa. I first taught English in kindergartens and then worked at a small rural school in Kozlowo near Gliwice for 10 years. I felt this was what I wanted to do, cause it gave me a sense of fulfilment. I really enjoyed spending time with the kids, with the young, and I devoted myself to making my lessons attractive and engaging. It was a great time.

How did you end up in the EMT-Systems Engineering Training Centre?

I got a job offer in the marketing department of a company training industrial workers. It was a completely different world, because it was technical. It took a lot of work and effort to assimilate new knowledge. I was in charge of marketing and communication at EMT-Systems for six years. The company was growing rapidly and we were running out of space in our then headquarters, so when the opportunity arose, we moved to a beautiful space of the guildhall of the former Gliwice mine. The building obviously needed to be adapted to our needs, but moving there was a milestone in the company’s development. It allowed us to spread our wings, expand our training offer and provide maximum comfort for our trainees. At the same time, Cechownia – the Gliwice Science and Technology Centre was established. Its main task remains effective management of the property, however, wanting to exploit the incredible potential of those beautiful industrial interiors, we started to organise events, vernissages, concerts, workshops, conferences or business meetings.
When it comes to the idea of forming the restaurant, it came from the fact that EMT-Systems recruits more than 300 trainees a week. Within the area of Nowe Gliwice, there are many modern technology companies, but no catering infrastructure. Therefore, Grzegorz Wszołek, the CEO, decided to set up another company, but this time with a completely new profile – Cechownia Restaurant.

You became its manager, didn’t you? Since when?

Formally, since January 2023. The restaurant has been active for 1.5 years, we employ two teams, over 20 people in total. Between 11am and 2pm, we serve lunch to the trainees, i.e. several hundred meals a day, nutritious, traditional, homemade dishes. After 2pm, a new team comes in and we open the a la carte restaurant, available to all. We have five fantastic chefs, each specialising in a different type of cuisine: fusion, Italian, Asian, Silesian. Before the restaurant opened, we started to organise chamber concerts of alternative music. People would come to listen to the music with their cushions and drinks (there was no bar back then), and they were already telling us that this place had an amazing atmosphere. Our CEO, seeing where this was going, decided to have the stage built with a professional sound and lighting systems, and I spun off the concert activity.

You are also involved in social activities.

We are happy to cooperate with Gliwice-based foundations and associations, such as NieOdkładalni, Tośka i Przyjaciele or Sawanci. These are organisations run by amazing women changing the world for the better with great passion and effort, especially in terms of improving the situation for families with people with disabilities or kids on the autism spectrum. We admire the amazing things they are doing and offer help, for example, by giving space for conferences or other events, support group meetings, and organising charity concerts and fundraisings for the needy.

Agata Rakotny

What are you most proud of?

I have managed to create a team of excellent, committed people around me. We have set up the Nowa Cechownia Association, made up of EMT-Systems employees and their families. We rock the culture in our spare time. I’m proud of the fact that we’ve been able to build such a community around this place, and that we’ve attracted many well-known, fantastic musicians from Poland, but also from the whole world. The artists are happy to come back to us. They say there’s a good energy here. The fact that Cechownia, as a new place on the cultural and gastronomic map of Silesia, was born out of our shared passion, and it’s been so well received by the people of Gliwice, also makes me proud. Privately, I’m proud of my son Tymon, who has been playing the drums since he was 11, and studying sound production in Warsaw as an independent and working with passion young man.

What are your plans?

My career plans are, obviously related to the venue. Cechownia is a relatively young concept – we want the place to be a space, where people simply feel good – the guests, the artists performing on stage, but also, and perhaps above all, the employees, because it is them who create the place. We also have ambitious investment plans. There are padel courts and a beautiful garden with a beach bar and barbecue under construction.

How do you recharge your batteries?

For many years, I have been aligning all my holiday plans with the music festivals, without which I cannot imagine a summer season. This is also how I continuously discover music, often niche, but brilliant, which can be later heard live at the Cechownia.

Dorota Kolano
Beata Sekuła