Restaurant history The Mariahilferbräu and the culture of the Viennese Beisl

Restaurant historyA Beisl is a typical Viennese, long-established, comfortable and plain inn. It is related to the Italian Trattoria and can also be roughly compared to the German Kneipe and Swiss Beiz. The classic Viennese Beisl has a spacious taproom where wine is cooled and beer tapped, dark painted wood panelling, basic tables and chairs along with traditional cuisine and a diverse crowd.

The Mariahilferbräu belongs to the category of in Vienna common “Eckbeisln” or corner-pub due to the location at the junction of two streets Mariahilferstrasse and Rosinagasse.
As first restaurant proprietor, Karl Zellhofer founded the Café Central which became notorious for gambling. A dance hall by the name of Tiroler Alm housed the location for around 20 years which then got replaced by Pizzeria Romigo in 1980.

The Mariahilferbräu as we know it today opened up in 2001. This rustic beer restaurant kept up the tradition of serving the most delicious Viennese cuisine, offering affordable lunch menus and seasonal specialties. It’s not only a rendezvous point for all ages but equally popular for residents and international guests.

The Schanigarten

When tables and chairs are set up right in front of a restaurant on the street of a pedestrian zone or on a wide pavement in the warmer season of the year, then that is a so called “Schanigarten” in Austria.
The source of the word “Schanigarten” is not entirely clarified. There are several speculations: One is that the word derives from “Giannis Garten”, because Gianni Tarroni received the first permission to set up chairs and tables at Graben (1st district) in 1750.

Another one states that the “Schani”, a helper of the waiter, got the order “Schani, trag den Garten außi”, which means in English “Schani set up the garden”. The Schani brought chairs, tables and flower boxes out in the front of the restaurant and thus the Schanigarten was invented. The expression “Schani” may also have originated from the French name “Jean”, because waiters had been called Jean very frequently in Vienna in the 19th century. As soon as the first rays of sunlight awaken the desire for fresh air and a cozy garden place, the lovely arranged Schanigartens provide for color and life in the cityscape. Worldwide there are several outdoor dining areas, street cafés and restaurant terraces, but none can match the charm of a Viennese Schanigarten.

The tip

In the Middle Ages people gave carriage drivers and farm servants a few coins for a Schnaps at the local inn. This folkway of tipping evolved to a custom. In the 19th century the masters referred the servants to the tip when negotiating about payment. Some even did not get paid aside of the tip. In our time there are indeed several payment regulations, but the tip is nonetheless still an important income for the service staff. In restaurants or cafés the tip is usually around 10% of the invoice. The idea of tipping today is to give the person, who had a major influence on the quality of the service towards the guest, a bonus. True appreciation cannot be explained with words, says the colloquial language, but it can be explained with money. Good service is always worth an extra coin or two for the waiter as an acknowledgment for his personal commitment.