A good couple of months ago, I had the honor to have a chat with one of the most impactful entrepreneurs of the Viennese coffee scene. Coffee house owner and business man Gert Kunze and I talked about his beloved coffeehouse right in the heart of the Josefstadt, Café Eiles. The partly in Mallorca living Austrian has traveled all over the place, as well as has done projects in Germany and the US. Now, he´s running the Café Eiles in Vienna and has been enjoying it ever since.
I remember showing you a glimpse of this coffeespot like a year ago, however, today it´s time to talk about the person who runs it! You may remember, besides the Café Eiles is one of my favorite go to places when it comes to having a classy melange or breakfast, I personally consider this coffeehouse as the hippest traditional café you can find, at least what Vienna concerns! Yup, cups up for interview round number three!! Enjoy and stay warm, forecast is snow! X
Coffee Talk at Café Eiles – Vienna
C: Bonjour! Thank you so much for your time! Soo great having you as my next interview guest for my coffeeblog! I am very curious what you´re sharing today..
G: Sure, thank you for having me!
C: I need to say, your café is like my go to place when it comes to breakfast, especially during the wintery times. It does feel like a big classy yet cosy living room in here. I really like the decoration as well, very carefully selected. My top favourite item is probably the old cash mashine which looks like a type writer near the entrance.
G: Happy to hear that! To me, the most important thing is to make the customers feel at home! I take pride in getting to know my customers. It´s so nice to have so many regulars here already as well!
C: I was going to say, seems like every third person walking in here knows you!
G: I have got such a variety of people coming here regularly. Actors, ministors, journalists… It´s a place where culture and politics are made!
C: I can tell, with having both the parliament and the theatre Josefstadt just a stone’s throw away! I see there lot´s of young people as well, especially your staff.
G: Yes. I am so grateful for my team! In a way, they are the café and my customers partly come because of them. They feel welcomed and appreciate good company.
C: I can see that. They seem to really enjoy their job – I see them smiling!
G: To me, variety is an important aspect. I employed many internationals and the thing I am asking for, is to make an effort in speaking a proper language with the customers. I want them to speak German in the café, it´s a Viennese place after all and I want, that Café Eiles represents exactly that: a heartwarming and classy spirit.
C: It is a place which invites people to chat, read, watch and enjoy.
G: I believe, particularly my team adds so much positive value to this place. Customers come in and the first thing they see is the classy coffee counter – then they take their seat. Also, the whole café is a non-smoking zone.
It´s very important to know your customers. You need to listen, to understand and to be patient. – Gert Kunze
C: Though it´s quite full in here – literally every table is taken at 3.30 in the afternoon on a weekday – it doesn´t seem packed or noisy at all. You can hardly get that in a coffee house, it´s quite a rare thing.
G: True. There is a lot of space and the arrangement of the desks is perfect as people have their privacy. Plus, there is room for exchanging opinions with others if they want to! And the windows are so huge, they brighten up the room characterised by mainly dark furniture so well.
C: So, what´s the story behind it? Was it more or less a coincidence to end up running the Eiles or initially your plan?
G: Well, the café exists since 1840. It was a little long-run project really. I started from scratch – you know, I build it up and focused on creating an identity. The Eiles was so different back then and it really took much effort to create a new and welcoming place. Along with it comes passion, know-how and expertise. You need an excellent team. I wanted to create something where people felt comfortable and welcoming. A coffee house to come to whenever you feel like. It´s open. Also, the quality needs to fit.
C: I wonder how it was back then. Clearly, you´ve made a lot of changes and people seem to love it, including me! Are there any other projects coming up?
G: Thank your. In fact, yes. My latest one is the Cobenzl. I am just in the process of refurbishing it and make it my next place where people enjoy coming to. I am aiming it to be just very similar as the Café Eiles. This will take around two years from now.
C: Sounds exciting! And, since Christmas is coming – will people have the chance to visit your café around the holidays?
G: Of course, a 100%! Café Eiles is open all year round. It´s 365 days a year from 7am to 12 pm. It´s important to me that people have a place to come to, where they feel at home. Especially for families or anyone really, it´s great to spend some relaxing time before the holiday celebrations are about to start! It´s a very peaceful environment.
C: That´s wonderful. So, if you were to describe your café in just three words…
G: Those would be: open, heartwarming and consistent.
C: Generally speaking, what do you think does a true coffee house actually need? Is there a secret formula?
G: Every coffee house needs the right intention and drive. Obviously a good team is important which you can trust. It should be welcoming and heartwarming, like coming home.
C: Are you happy you chose Vienna over Mallorca for running your coffee house?
G: Totally! Vienna is the place to be, it´s the heart of the coffee house culture and people are admiring our country so much, I can see that when talking to my customers. Even though the Austrian tends to moan quite a bit, we often forget what a privilege it actually is, to live in Austria. It has very good life quality.
C: I agree! To end up our talk, I´d like to close our chat with the question I am always asking: what´s your favorite coffee?
G: I personally prefer a good classic melange. It´s just wonderful, like round and fancy.
-Thank you, Gert!