Opinion | What’s to Come of the Neighborhood Beisl?

The closing of the beloved Café Industrie on the Margaretengürtel in May made headlines in Vienna

A family Lokal handed down from mother to daughter into the 3rd generation, the café ran headlong into a group of stuffy neighbors complaining of noise – which was strange. After all the Gürtel was far noisier.

But this was just one of a long and growing list of small taverns and cafés in Vienna that have been closing their doors – a trend that so alarmed journalist Clemens Marschall of the Wiener Zeitung that he set off on a foray across town to see what was up.

What he found was fascinating, while not altogether surprising – a collision of social, generational and economic shifts that are hitting the branch like a small earthquake. The power of corporate chain stores and franchise restaurants; the lavatory and anti-smoking laws; electronic surveillance and the invasions of digitalized accounting that tie the hands of even the most well-intentioned regulators; the young who head for the clubs and the unthinking betrayal of cultural change.

Does any of this matter? Yes, more than we often take the time to understand. A true neighborhood Beisl takes years to establish and is nearly impossible to replace.

“It is by eating and drinking that people come together,” Marschall wrote, wondering if politicians were even aware of what was lost when each of these social ecosystems dried up.

Tavern keepers lose their livelihoods, their patrons their second homes. Their gathering places, support systems, networks of exchange. Places where they are known and where they belong.

Dardis McNamee
Dardis McNamee is the Editor in Chief of Metropole. She has written for The New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler (NYC), the Wall Street Journal Europe and Die Zeit in Vienna, as well as having been a speechwriter to two U.S. ambassadors to Austria. She was awarded the 2007 Kemper Award for Excellence in Teaching (Media & Communications).

Help us help you

“Strong media and independent journalism are built on the shoulders of subscribers. Your support means the world to us.

Benjamin Wolf
COO & Managing Editor

The coronavirus outbreak affects and challenges your life in big and small ways. Metropole is here for you and we are proud to be your news source during this crisis.

But just as the coronavirus has increased the need for independent journalism, it has also undercut a major revenue source of media companies, ours included – advertising.

We need your support to keep it up – donate or subscribe and #helpushelpyou!

Support Metropole!


 

RECENT Articles

The Coronavirus in Austria & Vienna | New Support Platform Launched

Here’s all you need to know about current measures and developments, including trusted sources and tips – regularly updated.

Book Review | Daniel Kehlmann & The Power of Mockery

In Tyll, widely-acclaimed German-Austrian author Daniel Kehlmann reinvents a medieval legend to unmask the fatuity of rulers and the wisdom of tricks.

Why the EU Recovery Fund Is a Big Deal – for Europe & for the Climate

The recent budget-corona negotiations could lead to the creation of a fiscal union and a greater emphasis on sustainability.

Musical Chairs for UK-EU Expats – Grab a Seat Before the Music Stops

As the Brexit negotiations drag on, there is still no final clarity on the future of British citizens living in Europe. It is likely to be reciprocal – whatever that means. With Boris, who knows?

Max Schrems Challenges Facebook and Wins. Again.

European court ruling strikes down the transatlantic data transfer mechanism in a case initiated by the young Austrian data privacy advocate.

Vienna Takes on Airbnb Over Social Housing

After negotiations failed, the city is suing the short-term housing platform over illegal sublets in Gemeindebauten municipal apartments.
 

METROPOLE NEWSLETTER

Join over 5,000 Metropolitans, who already get monthly news updates and event invitations.