With the great quarantine of 2020 still malingering at the edges of our lives, we could all do with a grandma and grandpa’s tender loving care. Hearty meals, delectable sweets with tea and coffee and the smell and feel of old furniture are all fixtures of childhood. Those of you with grandparents still to visit are blessed indeed.
For everyone else, there’s Vollpension, now reopened, with a special hourly rate for the post-corona world.
Originally devised as a social project during Vienna Design Week in 2012, Vollpension encourages the generations to learn from each other, bringing senior citizens back into the wider world to give the rest of us home-cooked meals, cakes and cookies, in the cozy confines of a den filled with mid-century eclectic charm.
Their new system, dubbed Halbpension, is explained on a vintage television screen by the Omas and Opas themselves – a technique introduced to protect at-risk senior citizens while keeping the heart of the project alive,
So there’s a 1-hour flat rate of €9.90, a 30-minute “Oma Express” (€4.90) and the 1-hour “Schluckspecht” (€9.90), available after 18:00. The flat rate includes all the coffee, tea or home-made lemonade you can drink and either a piece of cake or bread with fresh chives-and-cream cheese or Liptauer. “Oma Express” gets you two drinks, while “Schluckspecht” (roughly “boozehound”) adds alcoholic beverages and unlimited Eierlikör.
In addition, you get 25% off their entire menu, including breakfast, Gulasch or Knödel with mushroom sauce – all cooked in a separate kitchen to keep staff safe. Once your hour is over, you can extend by a 30 minuntes for €4.90 as long as seats are available. Book in advance as social distancing means limits on guest space.
Take a Cake Break
Walking into their cozy living room-style premises was enough to transport me to 1961 – at least the way I imagined it: the exposed brick walls and oodles of mid-century furniture create a lovably kitschy atmosphere with a hipster grannie vibe. It didn’t take much to envision Oma and Opa twisting happily to Sam Cooke’s newest album among the velvet sofas, vintage floor lamps and upholstered armchairs. I was seated alone (distancing!) at a laminated kidney table; in a corner, two hip young men in horn-rimmed glasses sank into a big sofa, sipping creamy coffee from oversized mugs. Business was slowly picking up after the lunch rush, with small groups flitting in and out over the pleasant buzz of conversation.
After browsing the laminated menu (easy-to-disinfect), I approached the counter to choose my pastry: That day, the specials were freshly-baked Apfelstrudel, poppyseed pear pastries, Gugelhupf and chocolate-and-Eierlikör cream cake.
Mesmerized, I eventually settled on a square of banana cream cake to go with my smooth café latte and a pitcher of Oma’s special lavender lemonade. It turned out to be an excellent choice: The firm, dark chocolate glaze gave with a satisfying snap, and the shortcake beneath the fluffy yellow custard transported me back to childhood. Halbpension is indeed the full Monty – you’ll have a hard time finishing in an hour. In that respect, it’s win-win: patrons leave feeling they’ve gotten their money’s worth while the Omas stay protected and in business.
The only really downside is the mild confusion of concept – I spent my hour watching the clock, afraid I’d get charged extra if I overstayed my welcome. It’s apparent that the idea is still very much a work in progress, and Vollpension is taking customer feedback into account as it perfects the system.
But whether Vollpension or Halbpension, the basic notion of intergenerational mingling remains as charming as ever: After finishing my last sip of sparkling lavender lemonade, I left with a full belly and a warm heart. Just like Oma’s.
4., Schleifmühlgasse 16
Halbpension trial through June 30:
tel: 0676 637 81 06