The wacky restaurant Rollercoaster throws your food for a loop
There’s a sudden silence hanging above the train for a few brief moments as passengers prepare for the stomach-churning descent. Plummeting down, gravity expresses itself in full, jolting the tiny cars to and fro, turning spectator’s stomachs as they watch. The speed increases by the second, the entire carriage shaking as it twists and turns, rocketing back down to earth. Before you know it, it’s over: Your burger has arrived.
Easy to miss in the bustle of the Prater amusement park, the plain white sign with red lettering points towards a concrete container in the shadow of the Riesenrad. Once inside, two flights of steep steps lead you up to the Rollercoaster Restaurant.
Vienna is only the latest link in the Rollercoaster chain that is already spanning eight cities. More a warehouse than a restaurant, the concrete floors are splashed with mysterious drops of metallic paint, the bare walls make a clean modernist setting for the main attraction: a real miniature roller coaster operated by robots spans the entire establishment.
Upon arrival, my hostess cheerfully gave me a tablet in exchange for an ID and showed me to a table. That’s it: the last point of contact with a human server. From now on it’s you, your tablet and a mechanical loop-the-loop waiter.
The menu is simple, a who’s who of the usual fast-food suspects, only without the pizza, which would not fit the narrow rails. The chicken burger will set you back €13.95. After tapping your selection on the tablet you simply hover over the table, letting the machinery know you’re hungry and have made your choice.
Because you can
The drinks arrived first. Propelled from the top of the roller coaster they swing in through the metallic loops, diving at breakneck speed before arriving in front of you. After unstrapping the plastic cups and glass bottle from its protected seat, you’re left with a signature Rollercoaster original: the brand “One More” is paraded as the house beer.
Still, it was hard to understand the concept: If you prefer to have your food delivered without the charm of human interaction, why bother eating out? Afterwards, though, the draw became clearer; Rollercoaster is original, ingenious. And for all intents and purposes, it works. Your food and drinks do successfully travel in high speed, head-spinning circles before arriving at your place – served by a Rube Goldberg machine.
It certainly has its merits and it would be a solid choice for a children’s party. The novelty would prove impressive and the fast food menu caters to a younger audience. At 18:00 on the dot, the electronic blinds came down and an enthusiastic narrator echoed throughout, as a light show commenced to a mashed-up Michael Jackson medley.
Heading for the door, we simply returned the iPad to the front desk. Still, settling up posed a brave new etiquette challenge: Do you tip a robot? As a working waitress currently repaying five years of student debt with my tips, I pride myself on being generous to the point of insanity.
Hoping robots might some day return the favor, I added 10% onto the tab.
2., Riesenradplatz 6/1
0660 244 38 23