Wander through the cobbled streets of the Austrian capital’s Innere Stadt at dusk and you’ll likely glimpse a peculiarly Viennese sight. Here the young and the elderly, workers and idlers huddle side by side to eat at unassuming würstlständen (sausage stands).
These boxy kiosks are more than just places to gather sustenance en route to somewhere else. Instead they’re destinations that define and support the city’s late-night economy. For ours we’d call Vienna-based architecture firm Schuberth und Schuberth and commission a modern stainless-steel shell. Expect to pay up to €400,000 for a decent one, then add a few warm touches with bright menus and branding. Then we’d pull in the crowds with a playful logo, high stools and condiment-lined surfaces on which to lean and dine. There would also be a smart striped awning to cover our customers from the elements.
We’d enlist the help of signmaker Stadtschrift, whose neon lamps are certain to lure hungry punters. Installation will be some €2,000 all in. We’ve spared the expense of metal cutlery or overly fancy crockery; sturdy branded paper plates are best. Expect the classics: bratwurst (the standard), burenwurst (spicy), debreziner (with paprika), waldviertler (a wood-smoked number) and käsekrainer (Polish sausage with emmental cheese).
Our imagined würstlstand may be Viennese in flavour but there’s a case for launching them elsewhere. Think of the potential profits for street life, social cohesion and security after dark. Not to mention the comfort of knowing there’s somewhere to grab a bite and soak up excess booze if you’ve overdone it.
1. Hours: We close the shutters between 04.00 and 07.00 to clean and preen the space, and take deliveries. No one needs a sausage at 06.00 and the food and service are all the better for a quick break.
2. Location: High footfall is paramount but business is only good if you get a few decent regulars. Aim for an intersection that’s close to a decent music venue or museum to mix up your customer base.
3. Signage: Follow the Viennese example with something charming, cursive and italic; anything that tries to be too fancy will only attract sausage snobs. Proper neon signs still do something that LEDs haven’t managed to imitate.
4. Team: Friendly staff are a vital ingredient. Miserly servers or miserable chefs are too often the undoing of fast-food joints. You’ll recognise ours by their pressed aprons and button-bright smiles.
5. Seating: High stainless-steel serving surfaces cater to quick eaters who can stand and lean. A few high bentwood tables and stools from Thonet mean others can linger at their leisure with a crisp bottle of white.