Café Vollpension:
How Chance Led Me to the Right Place

There are generation cafés in almost every city. At "Vollpension" in Vienna, you can even taste how well this concept works.

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by Gerda Stauner


There are many great projects that I read about somewhere online and immediately plan to visit them if I happen to be nearby someday. Hotels that are run together by migrants and locals alike, garden centres that involve refugees or cultural spaces where people disabled and able-bodied people can create art together. Unfortunately, the haste of everyday life quickly makes me forget about my ambitions to visit these places, so when I eventually travel somewhere, I no longer think about the unusual offers that might be available there. But during one of my recent visits to Vienna chance happened to lead me to just one of those projects. My joy about the occasion was immense, and I made myself happy with it.

 A friend and I were enjoying the lazy Sunday afternoon as we were strolling through the vast parks of Belvedere Castle. It was a hot summerly climate, which might be why there were only few tourists around. The city seemed to be taking its summer break. We had agreed to meet another friend of ours later that evening near the Naschmarkt and wanted to get our hands on a cup of coffee beforehand. We left the artistically designed gardens with its beautiful fountains and started looking for a café in the surrounding area.

To our regret most of the coffee houses were closed on Sundays, so I checked my smartphone for places for us to go. I found a café called “Vollpension”, German for full pension, which was in close vicinity of our meeting spot for later that evening, and just a few train stops away from Belvedere Castle. We walked to the next stop, boarded the tram and left off. I still had no clue as to what the name “Vollpension” really hid.

Generational Café, but different

 We had to look around for a bit, but not even a hundred meters from the Naschmarkt we eventually found the entrance to the “Vollpension”. All of the outside seats were occupied, so we walked down three stairs to get into the inside of the café. We found a small table right next to the cake counter where we set down. I scanned the room, and in confusion looked back and forth between the counter and the elderly waiter who was standing there in a white apron. He was talking to a young woman, explaining the selection of cakes to her in English with a delightful Viennese dialect.

At that moment I realized that I had actually read quite a bit about this café already, and even watched a report on it on television. It was a multi-generational café, where young and old people worked together side-by-side. Original Viennese waiters of retirement age served alongside young students. The bakery was staffed not only by young and hip confectioners, but also by sprightly seniors. Together, they provided their guests comfort and made sure to only serve grandma’s best cake. At this point I realised, where the coffeehouse had gotten its name from: a play on words, that intended to draw attention to the advancing age of the staff.

Cake Showcase at the Café Vollpension in Vienna

 

 

Full pension with Guglhupf and whipped cream

At first, I was simply struck speechless. I looked at my friend, who couldn’t quite grasp the situation as well, and said: “No way! This is where I’ve always wanted to have a cup of coffee!”
She replied: “You’re confusing me. You knew about the place before? Why didn’t you mention that?”m“No, I didn’t actually know it”, I replied. “Well, at least I’ve never been here before. But I’ve heard a lot about the café and I’ve been meaning to come here! But whenever I have been to Vienna, I simply never thought about it again.” “Well, go on then. Go get yourself a piece of cake. You’ve earned it!” she returned, laughing at me.

So I got up and stepped up to the counter. The elegant, older gentleman in the white apron looked at me over the rims of his thick glasses. “What would you like?” he asked in his Viennese dialect. Without hesitation, I pointed at the Guglhupf, and he retrieved the cake from the display case. “Good choice”, he responded as he cut off a piece. Since I the piece turned out to be a little small, he asked “May it be a little more?” I nodded, so he cut a second piece and placed it on the plate. “Would you like whipped cream with that?” I nodded again and beamed at him. “Enjoy”, he kindly told me, handing me the cake.

We have to come again

I headed back to our table, manoeuvring my fully loaded cake through the café, sat down and looked around the room. The place was furnished like a living room and had a very comfortable atmosphere that was provided not least by the cushioned armchair I was resting in.
“The concept of grandma and grandpa staff is really great”, stated my friend, “we definitely have to come here again.” “Sure!”, I replied. “Now I know where the café is. Just around the corner from the Naschmarkt.”

Click here for more Informations about the Café Vollpension:

https://www.vollpension.wien/en/about-us/

 

translated by Cosimo Spangler – thank you!

 

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