I know a parallel universe where a writer can be alone in the company of others. A place where the air is laced with the scents of freshly roasted coffee beans and the soft tones of piano music accompany stories-in-the-making. A place where the cell phone remains tucked away and the only interruption is the arrival of a slice of Apfelstrudel with a side of freshly whipped cream or a berry torte topped with a sliver of chocolate and a swirl of gold.
Café Central — inspiring writers, poets, artists, intellectuals, and countless more for 140
years! Franz Kafka, Arthur Schnitzler, Karl Kraus, Adolf Loos, Peter Altenberg – were all “Stammgäste” here – so-called “Centralists”. Sigmund Freud, Karl Popper, Gustav Klimt, all came here as well. Rumor has it that Leo Trotzki played chess here while preparing for the October Revolution in his homeland. Happy Birthday to a true Viennese institution!
Without you, Vienna would only be half as wonderful. Thank you, Café Central, for being you, and allowing writers the world over precious hours of in-between times and boundless inspiration.
In my historical fiction novel that takes place in the beginning of the 1900s, Women and Wild Savages, the Austrian poet, Peter Altenberg, describes to Lina
Loos the masterful skills of Café Central’s head waiter, Herr Ober Franz:
“The third appeal of Café Central is Herr Ober Franz, the dominion of this empire of suspended time. Everything runs like clockwork and occurs only with his blessing. Astuteness is only surpassed by his ability to be discreet. A connoisseur of all drinks, he knows the rules to all games. Before the Herr Guest utters a syllable, good Franz addresses him in the appropriate tongue. In addition to German and English, I’ve heard Franz speak French, Italian, Hungarian, Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, and Russian. From the 250 newspapers available in this coffeehouse, Franz knows each of our favorites. Once I even witnessed Franz, without a word, setting a Presse in front of a man who had been absent from Vienna more than a decade.”
Franz’s slender figure glided through the labyrinth of marble tables. His
upper body swayed as his coattails swung elegantly and his black bow tie aligned perfectly.
“He presides, my dear. If we Viennese are half naked without a title, it is Franz, not the magistrate, who confers the honor. He masterfully ignores his guests to bestow us with the treasured in-between times: between the bank and the barber, the lectures and library, the firm and family, between today and tomorrow. He and His stand guard over our idle hours and never jostle us with a disapproving glance or unrequested bill.
Women and Wild Savages, KC Blau
And don’t miss on World Poetry Day!
MARCH 21 – PAY WITH A POEM DAY!
On Monday, March 21, Julius Meinl along with Café Central and other coffeehouses throughout the city are celebrating World Poetry Day by offering patrons the opportunity to pay with a poem by choosing their favorite Julius Meinl coffee or tea and “paying with a currency better than money: a currency of emotions” . Let your creative juices flow, be inspired by the ambience and enjoy the Mélange.