Friday, December 30, 2011

Leopold Hawelka, 1911-2011.

Some sad news in the closing days of the year: Leopold Hawelka, a legendary fixture of Vienna's great coffee house culture, died yesterday at the age of 100. If you read German, check out the tributes to Herr Hawelka published in Vienna's two main dailies, Die Presse and Der Standard; for an English-language obituary confirming the international reach of the Hawelka name, take a look at this remembrance published in the Washington Post.

The news of Herr Hawelka's passing moved me in a particular way for the simple reason that I frequently visited his storied coffee house during my time in Vienna. Café Hawelka's location in the heart of Vienna's touristy Innere Stadt makes this venerable establishment a popular stop for foreign visitors, but I found that if I came in at the right time (typically in the early evening) the place was empty except for two or three local regulars, which meant that I could quietly sit with a cup of coffee (or, sometimes, a tall glass of beer) and peruse the assortment of newspapers or do my German homework without too many distractions. Though Leopold Hawelka had long since ceded oversight of day-to-day operations to his son and grandsons, the old Cafetier was still rumored to appear occasionally to see how things were going. I harbored hopes that I might catch a glimpse of this living legend on one of my visits to Café Hawelka, but it was not to be. Friede seiner Asche!

I am on the road again, currently at a retreat house northwest of Chicago for a gathering of young Jesuits in formation, after which I'll be visiting friends in various places. Posting will be sparse for the next few days, but I hope to make an appearance from time to time. Since I probably will not post again in 2011, I wish all readers a very happy new year. AMDG.


At 12/30/2011 10:05 AM, Blogger Michelle said...

May the new year be filled with blessings!

I, too, found this place to be a lovely refuge in its "off hours." With both boys asleep in the stroller, I could have something warm to drink and read...

At 12/30/2011 2:28 PM, Blogger Joe Koczera, S.J. said...


New year's blessings to you as well - early in the new year, I hope to post some photos I took at Café Hawelka - I don't have them on the computer that I brought with me to Chicago, but I took them with an eye to an eventual blog post, so one of my first new year resolutions is to get that done when I'm back in Philly.


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