In 1964 the Viennese cabaret artist Georg Kreisler fantasized in one of his songs about “Vienna without a Viennese”:

How beautiful Vienna would be without a Viennese!

As beautiful as a sleeping woman.

The city park would certainly be much greener, and the Danube would finally be so blue.

That was a long time ago, more than 50 years or two generations.

Contrary to Kreisler's fantasy, Vienna is still full of Viennese and yet beautiful as a sleeping woman.

Instead, another meltdown has occurred that nobody could have imagined: There are no more coffee houses in Vienna - that is, they still exist, but they are not allowed to open anything that amounts to the same thing.

Anyone who is in the city these days will quickly come to the conclusion: A life without a coffee house is possible, but pointless.

Some offer a take-away service, but of course that cannot be a substitute.

Anyone who goes to a café does not want to be “at home and yet not in the fresh air”, as Peter Altenberg put it, writer and bohemian who spent years of his life in Vienna's coffeehouses in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Or he wishes "to be alone, but needs company", as the author Alfred Polgar, another Viennese original, once put it.

The Sachertorte provided is not a substitute for the coffee house


But at the moment you don't meet writers or bohemians in Vienna's coffee houses, not even ordinary Viennese.

Not even in the “Café Landtmann” on Universitätsring, exactly opposite the Burgtheater.

This Viennese institution, “where Vienna is at home and the world is welcome”, has existed since 1873. Not only “business and politics” usually meet here, but also “student and professor”.

Businessman and pensioner, Viennese and traveler ”.

Source: Infographic Die Welt

The self-portrayal as “Vienna's most elegant coffee house” is no exaggeration, even Sigmund Freud, Arthur Schnitzler and Friedensreich Hundertwasser appreciated the dignified ambience of the house and the discretion of the staff towards guests who chatted with each other in the booths.

But the times are not normal, nobody chats to each other in the private rooms, there is no laughing or swearing, nowhere are newspapers rustling, no coffee dishes rattling, no waiter delivers the great Viennese humiliation.

Because here, as everywhere in the Austrian capital, the café has been closed for weeks due to the pandemic.

No customers in "Café Landtmann", where normally "the world is welcome"

Source: Henryk M. Broder


At least, the “Landtmann” offers a “pastry delivery service” and at the weekend an “open air cake market” on the terrace of the café, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. “with lots of sweet surprises”, because “we think it's time for a little joy and enjoyment! "

As nice as the idea is: A replacement for the interpersonal encounters in the coffee house can neither be delivered Sachertorte nor warm apple strudel in a cardboard box.

You can also get cakes to hand and coffee-to-go cups in a bakery.

But a coffee house is more, much more - a “biotope of leisure, an extended living room”, as the Viennese publisher Michael Horowitz cleverly puts it.

“Hawelka” belongs to Vienna like the Eiffel Tower to Paris

Compared to the “Landtmann” in the first district, the “Café Sperl” on Gumpendorfer Straße in the sixth district is less elegant, but more comfortable and very popular with guests who sit undisturbed for hours in front of a melange and read newspapers or carom on one of the three Want to play pool tables.


The Naschmarkt is just around the corner, the multicultural, multilingual heart of Vienna, it's still beating, but the pulse can hardly be felt.

Like the “Sperl”, the “Café Drechsler”, the “Gräfin vom Naschmarkt” and the 110-year-old “Café Rüdigerhof” in the Margareten district, where no stranger has ever got lost, are closed.

For weeks nobody has visited the legendary “Café Prückel”, which is furnished in the style of the 50s

Source: Henryk M. Broder

The sad list goes on.

The “Café Bräunerhof” in Stallburggasse, whose regular guests included Thomas Bernhard and Alfred Hrdlicka, was hit as well as the “Café Eiles” on Josefstädter Straße in the eighth district and the legendary “Café Prückel” on Karl-Lueger-Platz in Center, furnished in the style of the 50s.

All highlights of Viennese coffee house culture are closed due to Corona.

Unfortunately also the “Hawelka” in Dorotheergasse, which begins on Graben, in the heart of the city.

“Hawelka” belongs to Vienna like the Eiffel Tower to Paris, in the 60s and 70s it was the headquarters of the Viennese bohemian, of which only the artist and cosmopolitan André Heller remains, but who now resides in Italy.

Fortunately, Josefine and Leopold Hawelka, who founded their coffee house in 1939 and established it as a second home for writers and artists after the Second World War, did not experience the lockdown, it would have broken their hearts.

At “Hawelka” in Dorotheergasse, there is no end to the closure in sight

Source: Henryk M. Broder

The other gastronomic institutions, for which Austria's capital is known and famous, have been hit just as much as the coffee houses: Everything here has been closed for weeks, from the gourmet restaurant to the Wiener Schnitzel roasting house.

Only hourly out-of-home sales and delivery services are allowed.

In the “Plachutta” you set the tables - even if there are no guests

Source: Henryk M. Broder

The “Plachutta” in the Wollzeile, which is known far beyond Vienna for its boiled beef, continues to cook for its guests, albeit without serving them on site.

Nevertheless, the tables in the restaurant are completely set.

If you ask the impeccably dressed waiter why the “Plachutta” goes to such lengths, even though people only come into the restaurant to pick up their food, you get a wonderfully Viennese, wonderfully pragmatic answer: “We want it to look nice. "

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