Torn, broken and mismatched furniture paired with a shabby chic charm and the crackling flames of a fire place – this is the lulling bubble of calm at the new café attached to the vintage clothes boutique, Burggasse 24.
“How awesome things are if you don’t consume them often.”
I overhear Antonia, one of the waitresses say this, after she takes a sip of a melange. They have no idea I’m here to review them. She’s also getting comfy in a chair while her cake is baking. I smile at overhearing this and think to myself that what I love about coffee is quite the opposite – each one tastes like your first, even the fourth one of the day. Most of those who know of Burgasse 24 know of it as a vintage clothes boutique, yet now it’s grown another limb – a very familiar cafe… with a street lamp in it. Hmmm.
The chair I am sitting in is too high for the table. I have to grin, feeling unusually tall. The odd ‘thrown-together’ arrangement of the furniture soon reveals itself as the centre of the place’s calm charm. A perfectly balanced ensemble. At first, I feel a little misplaced too. Sitting alone, sipping my Kleiner Brauner, listening to the waiters’ chatting and clattering, wondering if 11:30 on a Saturday is too early for the sleepy-looking waiter fixing himself breakfast behind the counter. For me it is (too early). It takes me a while to defrost on this stormy January day.
The coffee helps. The first sip tastes of dish soap and men’s perfume, but that’s soon forgotten after the second one. It is strong, offering that gentle slap in the face that I seem to need today.
The high, white wooden ceiling frames the café nicely and separates it from the vintage clothes boutique out the front, where you can purchase an outfit that will help you blend in to the effortlessly chic setting. The rustic, sweeping space of Burggasse 24 is airy and bright, but is somehow intimate and personal. To think such a beautiful space was once a wheelchair store.
“We removed parts of the ceiling which used to go all the way to the arch in the front and built the counter and shelves from its wooden beams”, Thomas, the waiter, tells me.
The former storage room upstairs is now part of the store, and the space at the back that was once filled with racks of clothes is now the café.
“We started the construction in November and finished in December.” This seems impressively fast considering the collection of unique furniture they’ve gathered. Perhaps they simply raided living rooms across Vienna.
By the way: do take note of the iron spiral staircase in the back room, the little old manual freight elevator and the moroccan tile water fountain. It’s the small things.
The improv of the place feels a bit staged and arranged. What might be effortless in London or Berlin, always seems like more effort in Vienna – more thought-through and placed with a tape measure. But this doesn’t steal from its beauty. It fits and pulls off its Paris or London style shabby chic appeal.
That initial ‘lost’ feeling that made me want to leave after a quick coffee, has now been replaced by a strong magnetic pull. The comfort of this place has faintly scratched away at me, and is now giving me a good, long scratch on the back, making me quite reluctant to leave.
And why would I? – sitting with my coffee, surrounded by the smell of fresh cake and the tunes of The Smiths, watching the waiters go about their work and the fire eat away at the wood. Why would I even consider it?